Abu Dhabi: The UAE-Japan Business Forum took place in Abu Dhabi recently in the presence of H.H. Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council; H.E. Fumio Kishida, Japanese Prime Minister; and H.E. Abdullah bin Touq al Marri, UAE Minister of Economy. Other dignitaries who attended the forum include H.E. Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology; H.E. Suhail bin Mohammed Al Mazroui, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure; H.E. Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade; H.E. Sarah Bint Yusuf Al Amiri, Minister of State for Public Education and Advanced Technology; H.E. Ahmed Jasim Al Zaabi, Chairman of  Abu Dhabi Economic Development Department; H.E. Shahab Ahmed Al Fahim, UAE Ambassador to Japan; and a number of officials from both sides.

The Forum saw the UAE and Japan sign 23 agreements and memoranda of understanding (MoU) aimed at bolstering economic, trade and investment ties in the fields of trade, investment, energy, renewable energy, industry, advanced technology, artificial intelligence, space, health, transport, shipping, environment, and circular economy. The Forum was held within the framework of Japanese Prime Minister’s official visit to the UAE.

H.E. Bin Touq highlighted the long-standing historical ties and strategic partnership between the UAE and Japan, which is characterized by a sustainable strategic partnership in all fields in line with the visions of both leaderships. The Minister of Economy further underlined the opportunities and prospects available to expand this partnership in the new economy sectors to accelerate the transition to a more diversified and sustainable economic model.

Addressing the Forum, H.E. Bin Touq said: “Our Japanese partners' latest visit to the UAE provides us with an excellent opportunity to comprehensively strengthen the existing strategic partnership between the two countries. Apart from expanding the scope of the UAE-Japan comprehensive strategic partnership, we will be able to add more dimensions to the leading model of cooperation that the two countries have established over the past five decades.”

Japanese private sector invited to capitalize on the UAE’s investment climate and promising economic opportunities

During the forum, H.E. Bin Touq apprised the Japanese delegation of the UAE’s efforts to transition to a new, flexible economic model based on knowledge and innovation. To this end, H.E. elaborated on the promising opportunities offered by various economic and trade sectors across the seven emirates, as well as the growth enablers available to investors, businessmen, and entrepreneurs from around the world. The Minister of Economy also highlighted that the amendments made to the commercial companies law by the UAE government in 2020 contributed to fostering a more competitive and resilient investment climate for the business community. Such reforms have solidified the UAE’s position as a global hub for entrepreneurship and innovation. Consequently, over 275,000 new company licenses were issued between 2020 and 2022, recording a 43 per cent growth in the number of active companies in the country.

H.E. Bin Touq called on the Japanese private sector to capitalize on the UAE market, which upholds quality, credibility, and excellence and serves as a business gateway to the MENA region, enabling access to a consumer base of over 400 million people. The UAE’s strategic relations and comprehensive economic partnerships with global partners will facilitate Japanese businesses’ access to a number of markets, thus expanding their global footprint.

Cooperation in new economy sectors

The UAE and Japan affirmed the importance of enhancing joint efforts to develop more partnerships in the new economy sectors, which support the future of sustainable development in both countries. The UAE seeks to cooperate with its Japanese partners and the private sector in various vital sectors such as tourism, advanced technology, Artificial Intelligence, healthcare, finance, manufacturing, space, energy, and renewable energy.

Support to SMEs in UAE & Japanese markets

The forum discussed bilateral cooperation in policies and initiatives related to facilitating financing for SMEs in both markets, thus supporting their growth and investments. The exchange of best practices to foster entrepreneurship and innovation formed part of the discussions, given Japan’s pioneering experience in this area.

Opportunities in healthcare, entrepreneurship & green fuel explored

The forum saw the active participation of UAE and Japanese private sectors and featured a series of presentations on cooperation opportunities in healthcare, entrepreneurship, green fuel, and green steel, which can enhance the growth of trade and investment exchanges.

Cooperation in tourism and aviation

Tourism movement between the UAE and Japan continues to grow, and currently, there are 90 flights connecting the two destinations per month. The total number of Japanese visitors to the UAE reached nearly 56,000 in 2022, up 26,000 from 2021.

Trade and investment exchanges

The non-oil trade exchanges between the UAE and Japan totaled USD 14.7 billion in 2022, a growth of 10 per cent and 36 per cent compared to that of 2021 and 2020 respectively. The non-oil trade between the two countries has averaged USD 14 billion yearly over the past decade, with an exception of the year 2020, the year of the pandemic. This made the UAE Japan’s seventh largest global trade partner while positioning Japan as the UAE’s 8th largest.

The UAE is Japan’s number one Arab trading partner in terms of exports and imports, absorbing 40 per cent of Japan’s exports to the region and providing 39 per cent of Japan’s imports from the region. The UAE accounts for 42 per cent of FDI inflows to Japan from the MENA region.  Japanese investments in the UAE market are currently estimated at USD 14 billon, with 10,000 Japanese companies operating here across various sectors such as technology, renewable energy, transportation, and healthcare.


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