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High Japanese demand for Austrian expertise

Austrian firms sold more products and services in Japan than ever before last year.

The Austrian Economy Chamber (WKO) announced that the value of exports to the Asian island state rose by 26 per cent to 1.3 billion Euros last year. Officials said the natural and nuclear disasters which hit the country around one year ago caused an increasing demand for Austrian know how.

Tens of thousands of people lost their lives when a tsunami devastated vast parts of Japan – which was also rattled by a massive earthquake – last March. Austrian green energy expertise is in great demand in the country following the incidents at Fukushima nuclear power plant. However, Austrian firms specialising in construction and infrastructure restoration are busy in Japan these days as well.

WKO experts estimate the amount of Austrian exports will range around last year’s figures in 2012. The need to rebuild many regions of Japan would cause intense demand for Austrian workforce and technology for another three years or more, they said.

Around 40,000 Austrian enterprises are engaged in export operations, up from just 15,000 in 2002. They sold goods and services worth 122.5 billion Euros abroad last year. This figure means a new annual record, according to the WKO. The vast majority of the export business (80 per cent) happens within Europe. Firms based in Germany and Italy are the most important trading partners for the Austrian economy.

WKO chiefs rejected claims that especially the export activities of companies with high workforce levels were prospering. They stressed that six in 10 firms which get in touch about launching foreign operations these days had 20 employees or fewer. Asked for its target for 2015, the WKO identified taking the 200-billion-Euro hurdle as far as the overall value of Austrian exports were regarded.

In related news, the chairwoman of the Viennese branch of the WKO (WKW) said that almost 2,000 new jobs were created by foreign investors in Vienna last year. WKW boss Brigitte Jank announced that 126 firms with headquarters abroad had started operations in the city in 2011. She said they invested large sums and hired 1,900 men and women. Around 70 per cent of foreign investments in Austria’s nine provinces go to Vienna, WKO figures show.

Vienna has always been the most powerful economic region of the country. New statistics show that its economic strength is in decline. Research by the European Commission’s (EC) statistics and research organisation Eurostat reveals that the Austrian capital, which has 1.7 million residents, is no longer one of the continent’s 10 richest regions.

Vienna takes 11th place in Eurostat’s new investigation which considered industrialised areas and countryside regions in all of the European Union’s (EU) 27 member countries. The organisation said Vienna’s economic power was 161 per cent if 100 per cent was taken as the EU average. Vienna reached 10th place in the previous edition of the ranking. Its latest edition lists the City of London (United Kingdom) in first place with 332 per cent. Luxembourg (266 per cent) and Brussels (Belgium; 223 per cent) follow in second and third place.

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