The 4th session of Abu Dhabi-Japan Economic Council kicked off yesterday under the co-chairmanship of Yosuke Takagi, the Japanese State Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, and Ali Majid Al Mansouri, Chairman of the Department of Economic Development (ADDED).
The session will be attended by a big Japanese delegation including senior officials, investors and businessmen, along with senior officials from Abu Dhabi government and businessmen.
Al Mansouri opened the 4th session with a keynote speech in which he highlighted the improvements witnessed in the business environment and the economic climate of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, which would consolidate the various aspects of cooperation between Abu Dhabi and Japan, especially in the presence of this high calibre elite of business community representatives and senior government officials from both countries.
"The UAE and Japan have enjoyed well established historical relationships bolstered by continuous communication between the governments of the two friendly countries while the distinguished presence of the Japanese business community in the UAE helps further develop mutual relations in all areas,' he added.
He noted that Japan is considered now a real strategic UAE ally and partner, and we look forward to further develop this strategic partnership between us in several vital sectors targeted by the two countries.
In his speech, Al Mansouri pointed out that the economic cooperation between the UAE and Japan has seen accelerated growth in recent years as the UAE has maintained its position as the second oil exporter to Japan, with a share that amounted to 25.3% of Japan's total crude imports in 2015.
"Though partnership in the field of energy is an important aspect of the relations between the two countries, the depth of these relations goes far beyond energy issues alone. The UAE is the largest market for the Japanese exports within the GCC countries as Japanese exports totalled USD 9 billion in 2015, which is 37.7% of the total Japanese exports to the GCC countries," Al Mansouri said.
He pointed out that though Japanese imports from the UAE dropped by 44% in 2015 to reach about USD 24 billion, the UAE's share in the Japanese imports from the GCC countries exceeded 32% in 2015, compared to 30% by the end of 2014. However, the ties between the two countries are not limited to oil and trade only but rather cover all other fields including investment, education, culture, cooperation in the space, to name but a few.
The ADDED chairman stressed in his keynote speech that the 4th session of Abu Dhabi-Japan Economic Council "presents a unique opportunity today to learn from each other and benefit from the successes of each party to enhance our mutual ties."
"Abu Dhabi has recently entered a phase of reform, modernisation and development that mainly focused on economic diversification away from dependence on oil and gas by investing in human resources, innovation and knowledge-based economy in line with the objectives of Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030," Al Mansouri went on to say.
He added that Abu Dhabi enjoys now a fast growing economy where the actual GDP has increased to USD 212 billion in 2015. Abu Dhabi economy has been and still is the fastest growing economy in the region, with an average actual growth rate of about 5% over the last ten years and an actual growth rate of 6.3% in the year 2015.
"The government of Abu Dhabi has launched mega development projects and massive industrial projects to ensure the sustainable development and the diversification of local economy. The results of these efforts was a very advanced economy and increasing contribution of non-oil activities in the real GDP, which amounted to 51% by the end of 2015; one of the biggest leap from 41% in 2005," he noted.
He went on to say, "Abu Dhabi's economy is based now on a wide range of non-oil activities in addition to its hydrocarbon resources. Manufacturing industries, renewable energy, aerospace industries, finance, information and telecommunication technology, tourism, real estate are all important elements of Abu Dhabi's economy today.
Concluding his speech, he expressed hope that this meeting will be a unique opportunity to review the achievements of both parties, consider the challenges ahead and plan for the promising joint future by looking into joint investment projects, stressing in this respect the commitment of Abu Dhabi government to encourage diversified economy, improve business environment and support financial markets to make Abu Dhabi economy more competitive.
On his part, Yosuke Takagi, the Japanese State Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, expressed in his keynote speech at the session his gratitude and appreciation for the ADDED and the senior officials of Abu Dhabi government for hosting the 4th session of Abu Dhabi-Japan Economic Council in Abu Dhabi in cooperation with the Japanese Embassy to the UAE and Japan Cooperation Centre for the Middle East.
"This meeting comes at a time that reflects the willingness of the governments of the two friendly countries to translate the common goals into concrete reality by reaching closer understanding and agreement on the key strategic and vital sectors that would form an appropriate ground to bolster joint partnership and investments between the two sides,' he said.
The Japanese State Minister pointed out that the partnership featured in this session between Abu Dhabi Farmers Services Centre and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation stands as a live example of cooperation between the two parties, stressing that the opening in Abu Dhabi in April 2014 of an office for Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, which is a first class commercial banks in Japan, comes out of Japan's commitment to consolidate its partnership with the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the UAE at large.
"Japan looks with great interest to successive efforts put by the Emirate of Abu Dhabi to diversify and develop its industries and several sectors that are the base and foundation to build a sustainable economy," added, pointing out that in the agricultural sector, Japanese firms that have developed agricultural technologies in Abu Dhabi and the UAE in general can help boost the efficiency of this sector to improve the self-sufficiency measures in the field of food and food diversity.
'With this understanding between Abu Dhabi Farmers Services Centre and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, it is hoped that Japanese firms that want to develop their business in Abu Dhabi would provide agricultural information and advanced technologies in a way that will encourage local companies to invest and work jointly with Japanese firms,' he concluded.
The meetings of the 4th session of Abu Dhabi-Japan Economic Council reviewed the successful partnership between JFE Steel Corporation, Marubeni-Itochu Steel Inc. and Senaat GHC, a general holding company owned by the government of Abu Dhabi; a partnership that resulted in establishing a joint venture in Abu Dhabi in July 2015 named Al Gharbia Pipe Company to manufacture large-diameter steel pipes to be particularly used in the energy sector. The joint venture is headquartered in Khalifa Industrial Zone (Kizad) and will construct a steel plant valued at USD 1.1 billion that will secure 370 job opportunities.
In the meeting, two presentations were given by Abu Dhabi and Japan about the available investment opportunities in both Abu Dhabi and Japan. Abu Dhabi's presentation focused on Abu Dhabi government's interest in providing many investment opportunities in the sectors of energy, industry, infrastructure, education, human resources development and the media. The Japanese presentation highlighted the interests and trends of mega investment companies to invest in Abu Dhabi, shedding light on the aspects that pose challenges before Japanese businessmen in Abu Dhabi to iron out such obstacles for the common interests of both parties.
The Council's meetings have also seen a presentation by the ADDED's Industrial Development Bureau (IDB), in which Eng. Ayman Al Makkawy, the IDB Director General, reviewed the key sectors that need major changes to enable a major growth in the industrial sector in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi by shifting from government investment in industrial sectors to investment in policies and initiatives that would improve the competitiveness and attractiveness of Abu Dhabi in the eyes of investors who would like to practice industrial activities in the emirate.
Eng. Makkawy pointed out that the present focus of Abu Dhabi's industrial strategy 2016-2020 is to work on providing the industrial sector with a supportive environment that stress better performance in the business environment (like industrial financing, Intellectual Property protection, foreign ownership laws, etc.). He said that the industrial sectors targeted by the industrial strategy are aviation, defence, industrial equipment, plastics and metal end products, which will hopefully be supported by the major existing industries in the emirate, like steel, aluminium and petrochemicals.
The 4th session of Abu Dhabi-Japan Economic Council was concluded by an interactive discussion session between the two sides to shed light on the various common aspects that would help boost joint investments in a number of available sectors. It was agreed that joint coordination should continue between stakeholders to reach understandings that would open new and wider cooperation opportunities.
Khalifa bin Salem Al Mansouri, ADDED Acting Undersecretary, concluded the activities of the 4th session of Abu Dhabi-Japan Economic Council with a statement in which he expressed hope that this session would be a new start towards bolstering the endeavours of both Abu Dhabi and Japan to tap common investment opportunities by the two sides.
"We look forward to a promising future that is led by the private sector, businessmen and investors from both sides with considerable support from the governments of the two friendly countries as a reflection of the genuine interest that was evident throughout this session and the significant presence from both sides," he added.
Khalifa Al Mansouri stressed the commitment of Abu Dhabi government to proceed with the policy of economic openness and free competition that encourages the private sector to play a key role in the development process, noting that the emirate of Abu Dhabi is providing several facilities and benefits such as world-class infrastructure, streamlined business procedures, safe business environment among others.
"We are working on addressing all challenges that face investors in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, including the development of flexible laws and regulations, streamlining the procedures and requirements of government bodies and supporting investment in the sectors targeted by Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030. Therefore Abu Dhabi has become an attractive target for value added investments like technology transfer and localisation, which distinguished Japanese investments," Al Mansouri explained.
Concluding his speech, Khalifa Al Mansouri expressed his gratitude to the head and members of the Japanese delegation for their presence and participation in the 4th session of Abu Dhabi-Japan Economic Council which has become a key and vital factor in consolidating economic ties between the two countries