TOKYO, 12th September, 2023 (WAM) -- An official from the Japan Cooperation Centre for the Middle East (JCCME) said the relations between Japan and the United Arab Emirates are solid, stressing that the two countries are closely linked in a wide range of fields from oil to culture and prospects for future cooperation are looking good.
In an interview with the Emirates News Agency, JCCME Executive Director Manabe Takashi said that the UAE has the largest number of Japanese companies in the Middle East. About 330 Japanese companies are operating in the country at present. By contrast, there are about 100 Japanese companies in Saudi Arabia.
Manabe said that in recent years there has been an expansion in the energy sector, the machinery industry has become more diversified, and the manufacturing, transportation, financial and services sectors have all expanded. He attributed this expansion to many factors.
"One of the factors is the UAE's policy of openness to foreign capital," he said, citing as an example the amendment of the Commercial Companies Law on foreign investment in September 2020, and the abolition of a requirement that foreign investment capital be more than half of the total sum invested.
He said that the Japan Cooperation Centre for the Middle East supports Japanese investments in the UAE, adding, "I think the policy of welcoming foreign capital is very good."
In response to a question about the most promising sectors other than energy that can attract Japanese universities and businesses to the UAE, he said that there are areas in which each company can develop its strengths if they approach ideas from a wider perspective, even if it is a small company. "I do not think it is always important to identify a field first. However, the first thing that comes to mind regarding energy is that Abu Dhabi will host the 28th edition of the World Climate Conference (COP28) this year."
On the UAE's goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, he said, "While Abu Dhabi is working hard on developing renewable energy, Japanese companies have different technologies, so I think there are many opportunities in areas other than traditional fossil energy. In addition, we hear from many companies that there are promising areas such as medical and healthcare, food, smart cities and innovation, which are all outside the field of energy."
"As a concrete example, we have held a joint conference called the Abu Dhabi-Japan Economic Council between Abu Dhabi and the Japan Cooperation Centre for the Middle East every year since 2011. Every year, dozens of businessmen from Japan and Abu Dhabi - not the UAE as a whole - participate in conferences to discuss industrial cooperation."
Manabe referred to the March conference this year, which was chaired by the Minister of Economic Development of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and was attended by more than 50 people. "There are now working groups in the areas of sustainable energy, infrastructure and education," he said. "They meet several times a year to introduce the technology of Japanese companies, and at the same time, to familiarise themselves with the investment environment in Abu Dhabi, and they are eager to pave the way for business promotion."
On the visa-exemption agreement for nationals of Japan and the UAE that was concluded recently and how it can help bilateral relations, Manabe said, "I think it contributes greatly to the increase in the number of tourists. And the people of the Emirates can see more about Japan. I believe there are big companies, start-ups, and many attractions in Japan, and since tourism is of interest to all businessmen, I expect economic cooperation to advance, and I hope education and research exchanges will become more active." He pointed out that the mission of the joint coordination centre between the two countries is to expand relations.
In response to a question about what sectors in Japan might welcome business and investment from the UAE, Manabe replied, "The first thing that comes to mind is the COP28 climate conference, and the sectors in which Japanese companies have advanced carbon removal technologies. I think it's one of the most promising areas." He noted how Japanese Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio concluded a number of agreements on his visit to the UAE in July.
Manabe mentioned three examples related to the field of advanced technologies: the Japan-UAE Advanced Technology Cooperation Program (JU-CAT) for decarbonisation technology; the ESIA Framework for Energy Security; and the Japan Semiconductor and Batteries Investment Cooperation Framework.
"It's good for UAE companies to look into these areas and see what they can do there," Manabe said.