Lower crude prices depressed exports by Gulf hydrocarbon producers to Japan by around eight per cent in the first half of 2013 after they soared to their highest level in 2012, according to official Japanese data.
Imports from Japan by the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries also reversed a steady increase over the past few years and declined in the first half of 2013, showed the figures by the Japan External Trade Organization (Jetro).
From around $81.64 billion in the first half of 2012, the GCC’s combined exports to the southeast Asian giant slumped to nearly $74.83 billion in the first half of this year.
The decline was in exports by five GCC members as there was an increase in exports by Qatar, mainly due to higher LNG sales.
Exports by the UAE to Japan fell to around $20.96 billion from $22.63 billion while those by Saudi Arabia dropped to $24.42 billion from $28.83 billion. There was also a fall in the exports of the other member states except Qatar, which boosted exports of LNG, crude oil and other products to Japan to $119.4 billion from $18.47 billion.
Japan’s exports to the 32-year-old Gulf alliance also shrank to around d $11 billion in the first half of 2013 from $12.74 billion in the first half of 2012. The decline was mainly in exports to the UAE and Saudi Arabia as they receded to nearly $$4.08 billion and $3.5 billion from $4.63 billion and $4.13 billion respectively.
The large fall in the GCC’s exports to Japan cut the group’s trade surplus with that country to $63.87 billion in the first half of 2013 from $68.9 billion in the first half of 2012.
Jetro did not give reasons for the decline but analysts attributed it to a drop in oil prices to an average $105 in the first half of 2013 from over $110 in the first half of 2012.
GCC nations, which control over 40 per cent of the world’s proven oil deposits, are the largest crude suppliers to Japan and the surge in prices to their highest average in 2012 boosted their exports to Japan to an all time high.
The exports stood at nearly $157.4 billion last year while their imports from Japan, mainly electronics and vehicles, also peaked at about $29 billion.
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, equipment and other industrial products.