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Japan seeks greater oil sector role
Riyadh , 20th August 2001

 Saudi and Japanese officials held wide-ranging talks here yesterday on how to forge closer cooperation in the oil and petrochemical sector, especially relevant at a time when Japan is experiencing energy shortages. The talks were intended to ensure some sort of role for Japan in the Kingdom’s oil sector following the loss of Arabian Oil Company’s (AOC) drilling concession in Al-Khafji.

Norota, who is also chairman of Japan’s permanent budget committee, later met with Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd and Crown Prince Abdullah, deputy premier and commander of the National Guard, in Jeddah.

Both meetings were attended by senior Saudi officials. The king and the crown prince also received the outgoing Japanese Ambassador Shotaro Oshima.

The talks at the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources were attended by Osama ibn Muhammad Hassan, chief auditor, and Saeed Al-Ghamdi, director general at the ministry. The Japanese side at the talks was led by a senior member of the House of Representative Yoshinari Norota, who is currently visiting Riyadh at the head of a 14-member parliamentary delegation.

Norota and his accompanying delegation also paid a visit to the Shoura Council, where they met with Shoura Vice President Bakri Saleh Shata and exchanged views on a range of bilateral, regional and international issues. Speaking about the visit of Japanese parliamentarians, Shata said that the two sides will work to boost bilateral cooperation in different sectors.

Norota, on his part, urged the Shoura officials to promote the joint interests of the two countries. He reiterated that the objective of the visit by the delegation was mainly to acquaint themselves with the current economic situation of the Kingdom and to explore possibilities of cooperation in oil and petrochemical sector. Tokyo has been seeking some kind of role in the Kingdom’s oil sector for some time.

Japan imported 0.93 million bpd of oil from Saudi Arabia in 1999. The Kingdom, in fact, has emerged to be the second largest oil supplier to Tokyo, which also imported substantial quantity of Saudi refined products (mainly naphtha). Saudi Arabia has also emerged to be the main supplier of refined products with its total supplies constituting 11.7 percent of the total refined products imported by Japan during the same period.

On the commercial front, Japan ranks as the second largest trading partner of the Kingdom after the US, with two-way trade exceeding SR56 billion annually.

On the regional level, the GCC-Japan trade totaled SR120 billion last year. And the total Japanese investment in Saudi Arabia presently exceeds SR21.7 billion.

Tokyo, in a renewed move to boost investment, has proposed to set up a special desk at the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority to encourage Japanese businessmen to invest in the Kingdom. This announcement was made during the visit of a Japanese delegation organized by the Japan Cooperation Center for the Middle East (JCCME) last month.

A number of Saudi and Japanese companies are currently working on proposals to set up joint-projects in the industrial sector. Two business houses, one from Japan and another from the Kingdom, have recently set up a SR184 million textile factory in Al-Ahsa Industrial City to produce thoubs and abayas (Saudi dresses). This is in addition to three other joint-venture projects, which went on stream recently.

Source: Arab News©

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20 August 2001 04:47:47 PM

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