EFEBuenos Aires

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday that his government supports the "free and open economic policies" being so firmly promoted by Argentine President Mauricio Macri, while noting the prominent role the South American country is assuming globally.

"On the economic level, Japanese companies have a great deal of interest in Argentina, which has enormous potential," the Japanese prime minister said at a joint press conference with the Argentine head of state at the Casa Rosada, the presidential palace in Buenos Aires.

For his part, Macri thanked the prime minister for his visit and said that at this time, with "the world changing so much and with so many challenges ahead," the "strategic alliance" with Japan could be "very productive" for both societies, since the real solution "is not closing the country off but integrating it" into the world.

Abe arrived in Buenos Aires accompanied by a distinguished group of Japanese business leaders headed by Elichi Hasegawa, special adviser to the prime minister, and made up of top executives from Mitsubishi, Marubeni Corporation, Mitsui, Bank of Tokyo, NEC, Nippon Signal, Toyota Argentina, Honda Motor Argentina and more.

"Free and open economic policies are firmly promoted by President Macri and have the support of the Japanese government. After the first meeting with Macri last April, a plan was created for holding discussions between the two countries with the full participation of the business sector," Abe said.

"We also took the decision to carry out a project of Kaizen - continuous improvement - for small and medium-sized companies, and it is to be hoped that the introduction of this Japanese business-management system will contribute to the improvement of productivity and stronger competition," he said.

Before the press conference, the two countries signed a memorandum of cooperation for the establishment of a more solid mechanism for consultations on policy, plus another between the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) and its counterpart, the International Investment and Trade Agency of Argentina.

Yet another cooperation accord was reached between the same Argentine agency and the Japan Overseas Infrastructure Investment Corporation for Transport & Urban Development (JOIN).

According to data provided by the Foreign Ministry, last year Argentina exported a total of $1.22 million worth of goods to Japan, while importing goods from the Asian nation valued at $572 million, a trade volume the Macri Cabinet expects to increase following the bilateral contacts of this visit.