UAE remains top GCC market for Japan

GCC exports to Asian country up 28% in first five months

The UAE maintained its position as the largest Gulf market for Japanese products in the first five months of 2012 while it emerged as the second regional exporter to the Asian giant, according to official data.

The figures by the government’s Japanese External Trade Organization (Jetro) showed exports to Japan by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) surged by nearly 28 per cent during that period because of strong oil prices.From around $2.53 billion in the first five months of 2011, Japan’s exports to the UAE soared to $3.81 billion in the first five months of 2012, the report showed.

The UAE’s exports to Japan, mostly crude oil, gas and aluminum, also swelled from around $16.4 billion to $19.24 billon in the same period.

Saudi Arabia emerged as the top Gulf exporter to Japan with a total value of around $24.73 billion in the first five months of 2012 compared with nearly $20 billion in the first five months of 2011. But it was the second largest importer from Japan, with a value of $3.48 billion in the first five months against $2.31 billion in the same period of 2011.

The report showed the GCC’s combined exports to Japan swelled by around 28 per cent to about $70.08 billon from around $54.63 billion.

The group’s imports from the Asian nation also grew to nearly $10.63 billion from around $6.45 billion in the same period.

The surge in the exports widened the GCC’s trade surplus with their main economic and commercial partner from around $48.2 billion in the first five months of 2011 to nearly $59.4 billion in the first five months of 2012.

The report showed Qatar, the world’s third largest gas power, emerged as the third exporter to Japan in the Middle East because of a sharp rise in its LNG sales to that market over the past few years. Its exports soared to nearly $15.78 billion in the first five months from about $11 billion in the same period of 2011.

Kuwait’s exports to Japan, mostly crude oil, also shot up to around $seven billion from $4.8 billion while those of Oman expanded to $3.17 billion from $2.1 billion.Exports by Bahrain, a small trade partner of Japan with limited hydrocarbon resources, declined to $141 million from $190 million.

But its imports from Japan swelled to $335 million from around $149 million, according to Jetro.

Massive oil supplies have kept the GCC-Japan trade balance largely in favour of the 31-year-old Gulf alliance, with the surplus peaking at nearly $117 billion in 2008. It stood at about $122 billion last year.

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 aluminum, natural gas, LNG and petroleum products, with the bulk of the aluminum supplies coming from Dubai and Bahrain. The GCC’s imports from that country comprise mainly electronics, vehicles, machinery, and other industrial products.