A sharp rise in oil prices boosted exports of goods by the UAE and five other Gulf hydrocarbon producers to Japan by nearly 40 per cent in the first nine months of 2011, sharply widening the Gulf’s surplus, according to official data.
From around $74.5 billion in the first nine months of 2010, the exports by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to the southeast Asian industrial giant shot up to nearly $104.3 billion in the first nine months of 2011, showed the figures by the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO).
Japan’s exports to the 30-year-old Gulf alliance declined to around $13.6 billion from $14.99 billion in the same period.
The higher growth in GCC exports sharply widened the group’s surplus in trade with Japan by nearly 50 per cent to $89.5 billion from $59.6 billion.
The report showed Saudi Arabia, the largest Arab economy and the world’s top crude supplier, was the largest Middle East exporter to Japan, with the value of its exports surging to $36.93 billion in the first nine months of 2011 from around $26.2 billion in the same period of 2010.
The UAE, the second largest Arab economy, came second in exports, which were worth around $31.99 billion compared with $21.3 billion in the same period.
But the UAE topped the list of importers from Japan, with a value of nearly $5.27 billion, overtaking Saudi Arabia in the first nine months of 2011.
Qatar, which was a negligible trade partner of Japan a decade ago, emerged as the third largest exporter because of a sharp rise in its LNG supplies to that country. The report showed the exports leaped to nearly $21.18 billion in the first nine months of 2011 from around $15.9 billion in the first nine months of 2010.
Kuwait’s exports to Japan, mostly crude oil, also surged to around $9.28 billion from nearly $7.23 billion while exports by Oman increased to about $3.75 billion from $3.35 billion. Bahrain’s exports to Japan, mostly ammonium, rose slightly to nearly $460 million from $445 million in the same period.
Analysts believe the GCC’s exports to Japan this year could be close or even surpass the record export value of around $144 billion in 2008, when crude prices averaged an all time high of about $95.
Massive oil supplies have kept the GCC-Japan trade balance largely in favour of the Gulf countries, with the surplus peaking at nearly $117 billion in 2008.
Japan gets more than 80 per cent of its oil needs from the GCC, Iran, Iraq and other Middle Eastern crude producers. Saudi Arabia and the UAE alone supply it with more than two million bpd, nearly half its total oil imports.
Besides crude, the GCC’s exports to Japan include aluminium, natural gas, LNG and petroleum products. Their imports from that country comprise mainly electronics, vehicles, machinery, and other industrial products.