Saudi-Japan trade relationship represents friendship model
Saudi-Japan trade relationship represents friendship model
The relationship marked its beginning with the Saudi government’s official correspondence related to earlier Japan’s request for establishing diplomatic ties through its embassy in Egypt in June 1955.
This was followed by the opening of the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in 1958 in Tokyo, while the Embassy of Japan was opened in 1960 in Jeddah and moved to Riyadh in 1984.
The relationship between the two countries is characterized by constancy, dependability, and mutual interest and understanding since its inception in 1955.
Both countries make enormous efforts to maintain mutual understanding and promote good relationship.
It is no coincidence, therefore, that on such a momentous occasion, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has appointed a new competent and well talented Ahmad Al-Barrak as ambassador to Japan. His proven success record of almost quarter of a century of diplomatic career, which is marked by a resolute commitment to a set of values and principles, indicates Saudi desires to promote even closer cooperation in all fields with Japan.
Historically, both countries’ interaction extends for more than a century ago. The exchanges between Japan and Saudi Arabia can be traced back to the early twentieth century, in the year 1909, when Kotaro Aamauka, a leading Islamic Scholar in Japan, came for the first time to the Kingdom of Hijaz to perform Haj in Makkah.
From the side of Saudi Arabia, the first visit to Japan was by senior Saudi officials after only 6 years of the founding of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in 1938, followed by the establishment of formal diplomatic relations in 1955.
This year marks 60 years of strong partnership between the two countries. During these productive years, Prince Sultan Al-Saud was the first royal family member to visit Japan in 1960. At the invitation of Japan in 1971, King Faisal's official visit to Japan was a remarkable event in the bilateral relationship.
After 10 years of King Faisal’s visit, the Emperor of Japan and his wife, who was then the crown prince, paid a visit to the Kingdom, followed by reciprocal visits between the two countries at the highest level, especially the late King Abdullah's visit and the visit of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, who was then the crown prince, deputy prime minister and minister of defense.
These events show that Saudi Arabia attaches great importance to Japan and is keen to reinforce and strengthen the comprehensive partnership and cooperation in various fields that serve the interests and prosperity of the two countries.
As a matter of fact, such cooperation has elevated Japan to the third position in terms of the Kingdom’s trade and investment partnership. In the field of petrochemical trade with Saudi Arabia, Japan now ranks second after the United States. Japan's trade volume has now reached SR214 billion, making Japan the second strategic economic partner of the Kingdom.
Nowadays, there are a large number of investment and other economic opportunities in Saudi Arabia, especially in industry, energy, the environment and financial infrastructure, education, health and development of Saudi manpower and services. Such areas should be sought after by Japan and no doubt the Kingdom welcomes and urges Japan to take advantage of these opportunities.
Saudi Arabia is the main source of oil to Japan. Japan imports from Saudi Arabia about 33 percent of its crude oil, and has created a Saudi crude oil storage facility in Okinawa.
Saudi Arabia is the most important trading partner of Japan. Saudi Arabia is one of the main markets for Japanese vehicles. The increasing cooperation between Japan and Saudi Arabia in the oil and petrochemical manufacturing industries has indeed made Japan the largest investor in Saudi Arabia.
The bilateral cooperation in general has been exemplary. When the massive earthquake took place in eastern Japan, Saudi Arabia provided Japan with a large amount of liquefied petroleum gas (amounting to $20 million) as a grant from Saudis to the people of Japan.
Japan is now very actively involved in the development of human resources in Saudi Arabia contributing to the promotion of economic development and industrial diversification.
Japan supports the development of human resources through training institutes and a large number of scholarships in Japan. Nowadays, Saudis constitute the largest Arab community of students in Japanese universities. They include 500 scholarship students studying in Japan.
These students will have their contribution made to the Saudi Japanese relationship through practical and scientific specialization in the development of the strategic bilateral partnership.
Japan International Cooperation (JICA) plays an active role in promoting industrial partnership between the two countries. There are a number of investment projects in the Kingdom, which involve more than 2,100 young Saudi trainees at the four relevant Japan centers. They relate to automotive and plastics, hardware, electrical and mechanical, and human resource development fields.
The relationship is still ongoing for the development of new energy such as solar power.
There is no doubt that the cooperation between the two countries is distinctive and enormous, but the most important is the commitment of continued relationship between Saudi Arabia and Japan.
There is a need to establish a broader, deeper and long-term partnership, to integrate a strong relationship in economy and development, as well as in all investment fields.
Therefore, we all Saudis should pay attention to the promotion of more investment and cooperation between the two countries, especially in the field oil and gas as well as water desalination.
Going by the old saying - where there is a will there is a way — the political will exists on both sides to promote good relationship, especially when there are no major obstacles for closer cooperation between the two countries.
— Dr. Rashed Abanamay is president of the Center for Petroleum Policy & Strategic Forecast.