Abu Dhabi (AFP) – Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived in the United Arab Emirates late Sunday for talks aimed at boosting political and economic ties.
Abu Dhabi is the first leg of Abe’s Middle East tour which will also take him to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Abe is scheduled to meet UAE leaders on Monday and also attend a Japan-UAE business forum to highlight the scope for cooperation between the two countries and potential for improvement.
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.
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 $600 million.
The new concession, at the offshore Lower Zakum oil field, is for a duration of 40 years. ADNOC also said it had extended INPEX’s 40 percent stakes in Abu Dhabi’s Satah and Umm Al-Dalkh concessions for another 25 years.
In 2017, trade volume between the two countries increased 10.5 percent to $28 billion, with Japan exports accounting for $7.2 billion, a drop of 10 percent from the previous year, according to official figures released by the Japanese embassy in Abu Dhabi.
About 95 percent of UAE exports to Japan are oil and related products with the remaining five percent mainly aluminium.
About 60 percent of Japanese exports to UAE are motor vehicles, the figures show.
There are about 300 Japanese companies operating in UAE.