JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia and Japan set the stage for strong trade ties by exchanging 26 pre-signed economic agreements between the two nations on Sunday at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Jeddah.
The signed deals encompassed healthcare, clean energy, mining and digital innovation sectors.
The exchange marks the growing bilateral relationship led by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who arrived in Jeddah on Saturday to promote the island state’s major local companies and explore deeper opportunities to collaborate with the Kingdom.
Saudi Investment Minister Khalid Al-Falih welcomed the Japanese delegation to the Kingdom and sought for mutually reliable economic partnership.
“The meeting is a testimony to how strong our economic relations are,” Al-Falih said, adding that Saudi Arabia viewed Japan as a critical partner.
Al-Falih pointed out that the Kingdom’s gross domestic product has grown remarkably since the Saudi Vision 2030 was launched seven years ago.
“Our GDP is now 66 percent higher than when we launched the Vision 2030. Our foreign direct investment has also increased significantly by 120 percent,” he said.
Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said that the relationship between the two nations in the field of energy has been going on for more than half a century.
He added that this relationship is characterized by solidity and reliability and the keenness of the two friendly countries to develop and diversify to achieve their common interests and support the development and stability of the energy sector and economy worldwide.
The energy minister stressed that the Kingdom and Japan strongly adhere to the Framework Convention on Climate Change principles and the Paris Agreement by effectively applying the circular carbon approach and recycling technologies.
Prince Abdulaziz also drew attention to the fact that Saudi Arabia, in 2021, became the largest oil supplier to Japan, supplying about 40 percent of its needs.
He also pointed out that the Kingdom’s energy purchases from Japan amounted to nearly SR12 billion ($3.2 billion) during the past five years. Most of these, he added, are in the gas, petroleum, petrochemical and conventional energy sectors.
“The purchases included turbines, pumps, valves and compressors, and a variety of services that included engineering, logistic, administrative and other services,” he said.
The Japanese visit is part of the delegation’s tour in the Middle East by the Japanese government’s Economic Partnership Mission to strengthen Japan’s economic ties with the region’s countries.
The delegation includes members from Fukui-based APB, a Japanese corporation specializing in research and development, production and sales of lithium-ion batteries.
Last March, APB partnered with the Saudi Arabian Oil Co. to jointly develop materials for next-generation lithium-ion batteries and introduce them to global markets.
According to the Japan Times, safer and low-cost all-polymer batteries will be crucial in decarbonization.
“We’re building a pilot production line at the Fukui plant to prepare for mass production in April 2026,” the newspaper quoted APB as saying.
On Saturday, the Japanese side and Saudi Aramco officials held a top management meeting to build on the relations the companies had created and discuss future collaborations in the battery technology.
Speaking to Arab News, Mashael bin Saedan, CEO of Al-Saedan for Development Co., said: “What we are seeing today in this event is a strong message and good example of the strong relations between Saudi Arabia and Japan.”
She added that Saudi Arabia has become a technology hub and it will be the next Silicon Valley.
“As the PM said today, Saudi Arabia’s geographic location is special as it links the Middle East and we [Japan] can even export from Saudi Arabia to the whole MENA region,” she said, adding that this will make the Kingdom’s economy more powerful and will change the country from being a developing country into and a developed one.
Commenting on the importance of the meeting, Bin Saedan said: “This collaboration is very important as Saudi Arabia is open to integrate with the world to develop our country and also transfer the knowledge and technology from developed countries to Saudi Arabia.”