King Salman, Abe agree to launch study on special economic zones
Riyadh and Tokyo agree to promote 31 projects
Tokyo bourse, Aramco considering joint study for IPO listing in Japan
Saudi Gazette report
Tokyo — Saudi Arabia and Japan identified nine main areas of cooperation, according to a joint statement issued on Monday after the meeting of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The areas of cooperation include competitive industry, energy, health care and medicine, high-quality social infrastructure and investment and finance, said the joint statement entitled Saudi-Japanese Vision 2030.
The two countries agreed to promote 31 projects, including some to help develop manufacturing supply chains in Saudi Arabia and to promote joint studies on the possible listing of the state-run oil firm Saudi Aramco on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
The deal to look into establishing a joint study group for the listing was one of several economic cooperation agreements signed by the two governments on Monday, the second day of King Salman’s visit to Japan the joint statement.
King Salman and Prime Minister Abe also agreed to launch a feasibility study on setting up special deregulated economic zones to attract Japanese firms to the Kingdom.
Within the so-called Enabler Showcase Zone, Saudi Arabia is expected to offer tax incentives and simplified customs procedures to encourage Japanese firms to build plants and research and development centers there.
Toyota Motor Corp. is also reportedly planning to begin studies on building an auto assembly plant in Saudi Arabia.
“Saudi Arabia is on the one hand targeting to diversify its economy and reduce its reliance on oil by fostering growth and job creation across various non-oil related industry sectors,” read the joint statement.
“Japan, on the other hand, is aiming to boost exports, investments and tourism in particular by exploring new growth markets beyond its domestic and neighboring countries,” the statement continued.
At the outset of the meeting, King Salman said he believes the joint statement “will further strengthen the strategic partnership between the two countries.”
Referring to the situation in the Middle East, the King said: “It is essential to intensify global efforts to resolve the issues and crises in the Mideast region, including the Palestine issue, as well as the crises in Syria and Yemen as these have impacted negatively the region’s stability, hampered growth of international trade and threatened the safety of energy supplies around the world.”
The King noted that terrorism has become the greatest threat to the security of nations and people around the world.
In the joint statement, the two countries also pledged to pursue synergy effects of Saudi Vision 2030 and Abe’s growth strategies for Japan.
Saudi Arabia is Japan’s largest oil supplier, with about one-third of all oil imports in 2015 coming from the Kingdom.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga described King Salman’s visit — the first to Japan by a Saudi Arabian king in 46 years — as “historic.”
Also on Monday, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and trade chief Hiroshige Seko separately paid courtesy visits to the King.
On Tuesday, the King plans to attend an economic forum in Tokyo organized by the Japan External Trade Organization, a government-affiliated commerce body. The King is also scheduled on Tuesday to meet Emperor Akihito for a luncheon at the Imperial Palace.
On Monday, the two governments signed memorandums of understanding on 11 projects to promote bilateral cooperation, while private-sector firms signed another 16 documents.
Last September, Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, second deputy premier and minister of defense, and Abe met in Tokyo and agreed to launch the Joint Group For Saudi Japan Vision 2030, chaired by five ministers from the two countries.
The group held its first ministerial meeting in Riyadh the following month.