The UAE and Japan yesterday signed an accord to strengthen economic ties, including a deal for Japanese banks to extend a multibillion-dollar loan to a state-owned Abu Dhabi oil firm.
Japan hosted high-level economic talks with the UAE in the face of growing competition for energy from the fast-growing Chinese and Indian economies. Japan, which has virtually no natural energy resources, is stepping up efforts to secure stable supplies of crude oil to feed its economy, the second-largest in the world.
Under the agreement, the countries will strengthen their partnership in the field of energy, boost support for small businesses and speed up talks on legal arrangements to avoid dual taxation.
As part of the accord, the state-owned Japan Bank for International Cooperation agreed to team up with private-sector banks to provide loans of $3 billion to the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, officials said.
“The Japan Bank for International Cooperation signed the deal with the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company,” said the bank’s spokesman Ryutaro Nishizaki. The loans will be provided on the condition that the UAE ensures long-term oil supplies for Japan, a source close to the deal said.
On the sidelines of the talks, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (pictured above, left), Deputy Commander in Chief of the UAE Armed Forces, held a series of meetings with Japanese leaders, including Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda (pictured above, right).
“Our co-operative relations in the field of energy is a base of the bilateral relations, and extremely important,” Fukuda told Mohammed, according to a Japanese government official. Fukuda also said Japan was ready to transfer energy-saving technology to the Arab state and provide support for the country’s effort to improve its education system. “The crown prince told our prime minister that relations between the UAE and Japan are ideal, and he said he hopes the bilateral relations will make further progress,” the official said.
The one-day economic meeting between Japan and the UAE came amid increased efforts between the two countries to strengthen ties following a visit earlier this year by then prime minister Shinzo Abe. The economic talks, chaired by Japan’s Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura and his UAE counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, also called for progress in free trade negotiations between Japan and Arab nations.