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Japan seeks UAE’s sovereign investments

(By Jose Franco) / 28 August 2008

DUBAI - Tokyo is looking to attract SovereignWealth Funds (SWFs) in the UAE to make long-term investments in Japan, particularly in sectors offering high returns, as both countries stress the importance of human and economic development.

Hiroyuki Ishige, Vice-Minister for International Affairs, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, speaking at the 33rd Japan Cooperation Forum for the Middle East in Dubai on Wednesday. — KT photo by Mukesh KamalThe investments shall be in the form of joint ventures on financial services, photovoltaic or solar power, water desalination, energy-saving IT products, biotechnology and real estate, according to Japan’s Hiroyuki Ishige, Vice-Minister for International Affairs, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).

 “We are open to investments involving patient, long-term capital,” he said in an interview. “That’s what we need from SWFs.”

The main source of the UAE’s SWFs, such as the Dh3.21 trillion ($875 billion) Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, is from a financial surplus from oil exports.

Shaikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the UAE Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, stressed before a two-day forum that opened on Wednesday the need for improved bilateral ties, saying that global economic order is dependent on the co-operation of countries and regions worldwide.

“These values of global development and co-operation are at the core of the vision for the present and future of the UAE,” he told The 33rd Japan Cooperation Forum for the Middle East, organised by the Japan Cooperation Center for the Middle East (JCCME) and supported by METI.

“This forum highlights regional and international dialogue and co-operation.” Ishige said, meanwhile, that Tokyo is keen to draw up a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the Gulf Co-operation Council bloc, stressing this would further enhance trade and investments between Japan and the six-member Gulf Arab bloc.

“Our objective is to pursue a multilateral trade agreement rather than a unilateral pact,” he stressed, although things have not been smooth sailing for the negotiations after both parties conducted only two highlevel meetings for the past three years. But he said the problem is only on the scheduling of meetings.

Japan’s exports to the UAE reached a recordhigh of Dh29.38 billion ($8 billion) in 2007, a 33.1- per cent growth from the previous year, according to data released earlier by the Japan External Trade Organisation.

The chairman of JCCME, Jiro Nemoto, said Japan is well prepared to help modernise the UAE and the whole Middle East, particularly in trade and education, stressing that his country has a 140-year history of modernisation.

He pointed out that any economic development must be complemented by human development through education, industrial training, information network and medical care. “Thinking only of earning money is not good,” he said. “We must also think of morality and good work ethics.”

jose@khaleejtimes.com  

 
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