During the week of April 18, a group of eight US and Japanese manufacturers and wholesalers participated in the EBPA and the State of Washington's Japan Trade Mission to Fukuoka, Osaka, and Tokyo. The group met 257 Japanese builders, architects, importers, and designers during seminars, receptions, and roundtable discussions.
During the week of June 22, a group of nine US and Japanese wholesalers of US products participated in EBPA and the State of Washington's Japan Trade Mission to Tokyo, Saitama, and Nagoya.
The rising strength of the US Dollar compared to the Yen has impacted sales of US building materials in Japan. Coupled with an increase in the Japanese consumption tax from 5% to 8% in April 2014, new construction starts have slowed in the first half of 2015.
Over the past few months, EBPA has been active leading and participating in several trade events in China and Japan, including two sales missions, a research mission, the Japan Lumber Importers mission, and the Japan Home Show US pavilion. In addition, the association held seminars in Portland, OR and Seattle, WA about leading emerging international markets and changes in established international markets for US building materials. The two seminars were very well attended by representatives from building products and related service sectors.
While domestic housing markets are improving, international markets continue to be an important part of many companies' sales portfolios. International markets can help companies minimize losses when domestic markets decline. Recent growth in international markets far surpassed domestic consumption and sales. While some markets have softened, they still offer major sales opportunities.
On April 4th, the newly minted Bank of Japan Kuroda (BOJ) announced sweeping new changes to expand the scale and scope of monetary easing measures. The quantitative easing measures are projected to nearly double Japan's monetary base to 270 trillion yen by the end of 2014 in view of achieving a 2% annual inflation target. The BOJ measures resulted in a further weakening in the Japanese yen towards near par to the US dollar and a rally in the Nikkei stock exchange.