KSA reliable oil supplier: Japan

GHAZANFAR ALI KHAN

RIYADH: As part of a major initiative to bolster ties between the Kingdom and Japan, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is visiting Japan where he will hold talks with Japanese Emperor Akihito and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“Prince Mohammed is scheduled to arrive in Japan on Aug. 31 on a four-day official visit,” said a statement released by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“The Japanese government sincerely welcomes the visit of Prince Mohammed bin Salman and hopes that this visit will further strengthen the friendly relations between the Kingdom and Japan,” said the Japanese Embassy’s statement to Arab News.

“This will be the first visit of Prince Mohammed to Japan as deputy crown prince and minister of defense,” said the statement.

Prince Mohammed will also be attending the G-20 summit in China’s eastern city of Hangzhou, on Sept. 4, at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Norihiro Okuda, the Japanese ambassador, said that “economic and Saudi-Japanese trade ties are growing steadily, especially after the signing of the investment protection agreement.” In a press interview, Okuda said that Saudi Arabia is the most reliable crude oil supplier to Japan.

Petrochemical projects are the most prominent in the history of economic and trade relations between the two countries, which culminated in the PetroRabigh project, in which Japan invested around SR66 billion.
Other important projects in the petrochemical sector include the Sharq project and Al-Razi.

Japan’s contribution to the development of petrochemical production in the Kingdom dates back to 1970s.

Okuda said the Japanese government is also interested in Saudi Aramco’s IPO and would like the company’s shares to be listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, which is “one of the most important and reputable in the world.”

He said that “his country is interested in studying carefully the ambitious economic programs put forward by the Kingdom within the framework of the Vision 2030.”

On the commercial front, the envoy said that the two countries have forged even closer ties. The total value of Saudi exports to Japan during 2014 amounted to around $14.5 billion, while imports during the same year amounted to $9.9 billion.

The main Japanese export items are cars and spare parts.

In 2014, Japan ranked as the third most important trading partner for the Kingdom, while the Kingdom was the sixth most important trade partner to Japan, said the ambassador.

Regarding investment, Japan and the Kingdom “have been close allies. In fact, the foreign direct investments by Japan in the Kingdom has been in the region of $14.5 billion, making Japan the 4th largest investor in Saudi Arabia after the US, Britain and France,” said the envoy, adding: “Most of these investments were concentrated in the Saudi petrochemical sector. During 2015 and 2016, and to date, Saudi Arabia has remained the most trusted crude oil supplier to Japan.”

In regard to Saudi Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program 2020, the ambassador said there is more room for many more mutually beneficial projects between both countries.

“There is more potential in the field of transport, education, medicine and others that aim to promote the welfare of Saudi society. Other shared projects in many other sectors, including energy, will bring strength to the national economies of the two countries,” he noted.

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