RIYADH, January 14 – The Saudi-Japanese Business Forum, held in Riyadh on Sunday under the banner of “Saudi-Japanese Vision 2030”, focused on the many partnership opportunities as the Kingdom braces for a gush of foreign investment.
Some of the highlights of the one-day forum included three Japanese companies receiving investment licenses from Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), the organisers of the event, as well as signing of six memoranda of understanding involving government- and private-sector entities.
The three entities that received licenses included SMBC, a specialist in financial and administrative consulting; SB Energy, a specialist in renewable-energy consultancy; and TADANO that would provide scientific and technical services to Saudi agents specialised in the industrial field.
The event also witnessed the signing of six MoUs between Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) and New Energy and Industrial Technology Development (NEDCO); Saudi Arabia’s General Sport Authority (GSA), with Fujifilm and with Mediva, a healthcare consulting and medical service operation company in Japan; Saudi Arabia’s General Commission for Audio-visual Media (GCAM) and Japan Cooperation Centre for the Middle East (JCCME); the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) and Nomura International; Alyemni Group and Japan’s Matsutan Chemical Industry; and Saudi Electricity Company, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and Nissan.
The forum was attended by a trade delegation of 60 Japanese companies, led by the Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Hiroshige Seko; as well as Khalid Al-Falih, the Saudi Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources; Dr Majid Al Qassabi, Minister of Trade and Investment; Nabil Al Amoudi, Minister of Transport; Ibrahim Al-Omar, Governor of SAGIA; and Princess Reema bint Bandar, President of the Saudi Federation for Community Sports. The Japanese delegation included Executive Vice-President of the Japanese Foreign Trade Organization Yasukazu Aerino; and the representative of the Japan Cooperation Center for the Middle East, CJ Hirota.
Dr Al Qassabi pointed out that the Kingdom offered one of the most congenial environments for Japanese businesses sector by providing them with all necessary resources and opportunities to expand in the Middle Eastern and African markets. “The risk for them is low while they can earn high profits,” the minister said.
Dr Al-Qassabi said that the two sides would review their collaborative achievements within the purview of the Saudi-Japanese Vision 2030, activities of the Joint Committee and address the obstacles facing businessmen in both countries.
Highlighting the significance of bilateral partnership in the energy sector, Al Falih said the Kingdom’s reliability in the production of energy had enabled the country to meet 35% to 40% of Japan’s energy requirements over the years. “Our partnership with Japan’s refining, marketing and chemicals sectors through Shua Shell Refinery has been continuing for a decade and a half, and Okinawa crude oil storage has helped boost Japan’s oil reserves,” he said.
Underlining the Kingdom’s plan to raise its production by about 10,000 megawatts in 2023, or about 10% of the country’s total energy production, the minister said that there were great opportunities for cooperation in this field as well. “The techniques of storing carbon and hydrogen are witnessing a tangible development,” he said, underlining the importance of boosting bilateral cooperation on peaceful use of nuclear energy in the Kingdom.
Al Omar, the Governor of SAGIA, said the aim of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 was to create promising opportunities for investment and development. Its economic objectives include increasing the contribution of foreign investments to 5.7% to GDP by 2030, as well as raising the contribution of the private sector to 65% of GDP from the current 40%. He said that the volume of bilateral trade in the past year amounted to more than SAR100 billion, while the number of Japanese companies to invest in the Kingdom, until the end of last year, was 96 companies with the total investment exceeding SAR53 billion.
Al Omar particularly mentioned about SAGIA’s continuous effort to improve the business environment in the Kingdom and to solve the difficulties facing foreign and local investments.
Tarek bin Abdul Hadi Al-Qahtani, President of the Saudi-Japanese Business Council, said that the volume of development witnessed by the trade and investment movement between the two countries during the past two decades reflected the strength of the strategic relationship and partnership between them. “The Kingdom is also one of the attractive countries for investments and has viability for Japanese investment that is expected to rise significantly as part of the implementation of the Saudi-Japanese Joint Vision 2030,” he said.
Al-Qahtani also highlighted the implementation of initiatives for knowledge exchange, youth projects in both countries, the establishment of a Saudi-Japanese bank, as well as acceleration of the establishment of a Saudi-Japanese company to boost investment in various fields.
The forum included four panel discussions on the recent achievement of Tayseer – a SAGIA initiative that aims to secure and stimulate the investment environment for the private sector and to provide the necessary guarantees for the preservation of rights – its recent achievements and key investment opportunities in energy, petrochemicals, health, entertainment industries as well as in digital content. The forum also showcased projects funded by the Public Investment Fund (PIF).
An exhibition, held under the title “Invest in Saudi Arabia”, was also organised on the sidelines of the event. The participants included the SAGIA; the Saudi industrial property authority, Modon; and the Saudi Export Authority and 15 other entities under its umbrella.
Saudi-Japanese relations are witnessing significant development and the two countries are increasingly identifying common economic interests following the historic visit of Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz to Japan last year. The visit gave a significant boot to the Saudi-Japanese Vision 2030 in terms of realising its objectives.