Bahrain on track to become GCC trade hub for Japan
Manama, August 27, 2013
Bahrain and Japan have agreed to resume discussions to conclude a free trade agreement (FTA) in line with the latter’s hopes to turn the kingdom into a hub for trade in the region, a report said.
The Japanese government aims to increase trade from countries it has free trade agreements (FTA) with to 70 per cent of its total by 2018, according to the report in the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
Manama and Tokyo held talks to boost bilateral ties after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived in Bahrain for a two-day visit on Saturday.
Abe, who is the first Japanese prime minister to visit the country, said "friendly and co-operative relations with Bahrain" will be strengthened.
"Japan hopes to strengthen and develop the friendly and co-operative relations with Bahrain," which is important for security of the Middle East and the Gulf region, Abe was quoted in daily newspaper Japan Times.
Abe and HRH Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa issued a joint statement saying they agreed to reconvene a ministerial strategic dialogue between Japan and GCC countries.
Abe also expressed plans to help Bahrain with infrastructure development, the report said.
Bahrain constituted the first leg of Abe's six-day trip to Middle Eastern and African countries, including Kuwait, Qatar and Djibouti.
The GCC groups involved in the impending trade relations with Japan are Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Japan also hopes to bolster ties to secure a stable supply of energy as about 76 per cent of Japan's imports of crude came from Gulf states as of 2011.
"I hope I will be able to enhance our ties comprehensively, rather than focusing only on oil and other energy fields," said Abe. "I am going to market Japan to the rapidly growing Gulf countries."
Japan and the GCC started FTA talks in 2006, but negotiations have been suspended since 2009. – TradeArabia News Service