Tue, May 01, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Abe in the UAE with 27 firms in tow

UN-EASY MEETING:While Abe signed an investment agreement, the foreign minister oversaw a meeting on the ‘corridor for peace’ plan with Jordan, Israel and Palestinians


Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, right, walks with United Arab Emirates Minister of State Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

Photo: EPA / Emirates News Agency

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe yesterday hailed cooperation with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as a “strategic relationship” on a visit aimed at boosting political and economic ties.

Abe arrived in the Gulf state late on Sunday on the first leg of a Middle East tour that is also to take him to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories.

“Over the past five years since I last visited Abu Dhabi, our bilateral relations have made dramatic progress to a relationship that has been called a strategic relationship,” Abe told a UAE-Japan business forum.

Top executives from Japan’s leading business groups addressed the forum, highlighting projects underway in the UAE and future plans.

“On this visit, we are accompanied by 27 companies representing Japan with a delegation of top business leaders,” Abe said.

The UAE is Japan’s main trading partner in the Middle East, accounting for about a third of Tokyo’s trade in the region. It is also the second-largest oil supplier to Japan, accounting for almost a quarter of its crude oil needs last year.

Abe praised the renewal of oil concession agreements by Abu Dhabi to Japanese oil companies, saying: “Bilateral relations in the field of energy have been solidified.”

In February, Abu Dhabi’s state energy company ADNOC said it had awarded Japan’s INPEX a 10 percent stake in an offshore oil concession in a deal worth US$600 million.

The concession is for a duration of 40 years. ADNOC also said that it had extended INPEX’s 40 percent stakes in Abu Dhabi’s Satah and Umm Al-Dalkh concessions for another 25 years.

Trade volume between the two nations last year increased 10.5 percent to US$28 billion, with Japan’s exports accounting for US$7.2 billion — a 10 percent drop from the previous year, official figures released by the Japanese embassy in Abu Dhabi showed.

About 95 percent of UAE exports to Japan are oil and related products, while about 60 percent of Japanese exports to the UAE are vehicles, the figures show.

Abe said economic cooperation between the two nations would be further strengthened by the signing of an investment agreement later yesterday.

In the meantime, a four-party consultative unit comprised of Japan, Jordan, Israel and Palestinians held a meeting at the Dead Sea in Jordan on Sunday night to discuss their “corridor for peace and prosperity” initiative.

Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Taro Kono told reporters that the initiative — which aims to promote regional cooperation, including through the creation of an agro-industrial park on the West Bank — was making progress.

“Today, we are witnessing tangible results. Our efforts have finally started to bear fruits,” Kono said, adding: “It has not been easy for the four parties to get together under current circumstances.”

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