Policy Proposals Middle East and Affrica
4th Japan-Arab Economic Forum
Economic and Industrial Diversification in Arab Countries
Raises Hopes for Greater Cooperation with Japan
The Government of Japan and the League of Arab States (LAS) convened the 4th Japan-Arab Economic Forum in Casablanca, Morocco, on May 4-5. Keidanren has been collaborating with the Japanese government since the stage of conceptualization of the Forum.
Some 300 attendees from Japan took part, including Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Mr. Motoo Hayashi, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. Yoji Muto, Keidanren Vice Chair Mr. Yasushi Kimura, Keidanren Committee on the Middle East and North Africa Chair Mr. Osamu Ishitobi, and Keidanren Japan-Algeria Economic Committee Chair Mr. Keisuke Takeuchi. Around 700 participants from Arab countries attended the Forum, including LAS Assistant Secretary-General Dr. Mohammed Bin Ibrahim Al-Tuwaijri, Moroccan Minister of Industry, Trade, Investment and the Digital Economy Mr. Moulay Hafid El Alamy, and government officials and businesspeople from LAS nations.
In recent years Arab states have requested technical and financial cooperation from Japan as they work toward economic and industrial diversification to deal with lower resource prices, rapid population growth, and youth unemployment issues. As Japan depends on Arab countries for import of about 80 percent of its crude oil, stable economic growth in Arab nations is crucial for Japan's energy security.
Discussions of the 4th meeting of the Forum were focused on diversification of economic relations, expansion of investment, and cooperation in fields such as energy and the environment. The outcome of the talks was summarized in a joint statement entitled the Casablanca Declaration, which included aims such as (a) doubling the number of investment treaties concluded, (b) enhancing collaboration for human resource development, (c) reinforcing cooperation in the energy sector, and (d) making active use of Japanese government financing schemes for high-quality infrastructure projects.
Moving forward, Keidanren will take every opportunity to follow up on the issues raised at the Forum.
Comments by key Arab participants are outlined below.
Dr. Mohammed Bin Ibrahim Al-Tuwaijri
LAS Assistant Secretary-General
In order to enhance economic relations between Japan and Arab States, Arab countries intend to strengthen bilateral and multilateral cooperation with Japan. Arab countries especially hope to bolster cooperation in fields including electric power, transport, tourism, ICT, agriculture, and human resource development. Arab countries appreciate Japan's long-standing support for Palestinians.
Mr. Moulay Hafid El Alamy
Moroccan Minister of Industry, Trade, Investment and the Digital Economy
Arab countries would like to extend Japan-Arab relations beyond the intergovernmental sphere to include government-to-business and business-to-business ties to build a more multi-layered relationship. To date Japan-Arab relations have focused on energy and petrochemicals, but both parties would like to diversify the relationship to include cooperation in the infrastructure field and business relations. Morocco would also like to be a hub connecting Japanese companies with Arab countries, Europe, and Africa.
The next meeting of the Forum is scheduled for 2018 in Japan.