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
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
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
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
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.
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©