Health-Tech Fair: A Breakthrough for U.S. Firms?

By BRIAN COVERT

OSAKA — The 150 American medical technology companies that were here this week to peddle everything from brain scanners to urinalysis machines sounded satisfied with the outcome of “Made in the U.S.A. Fair ’87.”

“I think (the fair) is a great first step for very small American companies with no export experience or medium-sized companies who are not familiar with doing business in Japan,” said Harvey Shoemack, a longtime consultant to the Japan External Trade Organization, one of the expo’s sponsors. “As a preliminary, I think it’s great.”

Shinichi Shimura, a JETRO director, said that the most significant outcome of the fair was the “mutual understanding” fostered between the American and Japanese medical technology industries. About 45 Japanese firms also attended the event.

As of Tuesday, more than 800 business appointments had been made through JETRO’s inquiry section, Shimura reported.

An estimated 15,000 buyers, distributors, manufacturers and officials have visited seminars and the 270 exhibits at Osaka’s International Exhibition Center during the four-day event that ended Thursday.

Besides JETRO, the fair’s sponsors included the Osaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Osaka’s municipal and prefectural governments, and the Kansai Economic Federation.

The U.S. companies displayed products ranging from oxygen-monitoring devices to weight-lifting machines, vitamins and hygiene products.

JETRO consultant Shoemack said the fair was a means of opening avenues for future ties between the U.S. and Japan.

He added that more American companies need to “come here personally and experience the Japanese food, surroundings, environment.”

Shoemack, who has dealt with JETRO for the last two decades, said he expected to see many more U.S. companies here in Japan.

“I’m disappointed that more companies didn’t come,” he said. Shoemack said that many U.S. firms believe it’s too difficult to do business in Japan.