His Excellency Nasser Ahmad Al Sowaidi, Chairman of the Department of Economic Development in Abu Dhabi opened today in the Japanese capital Tokyo, the Abu Dhabi Tokyo Investment Forum 2012, organized by the Department in cooperation with the Higher Corporation for Specialized Economic Zones (ZonesCorp) and in participation of a senior government delegation including senior officials of a number of government agencies, companies and national banks. The following is the opening speech delivered by HE Nasser Al Sowaidi at the ForumYour Excellencies…Respected Attendees…Ladies and Gentlemen…It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to this imperative forum. Moreover, I would like to appreciate the enormous efforts exerted by the forum’s organizers and sponsors in both Abu-Dhabi and Tokyo. I am honored to deliver this speech in one of the world most prominent centers of world economy. Remarkably, the timing of this distinguished forum coincides with UAE’s 40th National Day celebrations. Ladies and Gentlemen…For more than 40 years of mutual cooperation between Japan and the United Arab Emirates in general, and the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in particular, the two sides have experienced growing and sound bilateral relations within the international community. The markedly dynamic relations between Abu Dhabi and Japan, is tan outcome of genuine and keen desire of top officials in both sides, to continuously promote and deepen mutual ties. This is evidenced by the reciprocal high delegations formal and regular visits. These outstanding relations have been furthered by the establishment of the “Abu Dhabi-Japan Economic Council (AJEC)” last January. The newly formed council is highly regarded as a landmark along the prominent path of joint cooperation; set with main aim to strengthen links between the two sides, facilitate ongoing trade relations and boost investments. Moreover, it is worth noting that the accelerating homogeneity of the Abu Dhabi-Japanese relations, perfectly enabled Abu Dhabi to become a key player in Japan-Middle East relations. This fact is clearly manifested, by the Department of Economic Development in Abu Dhabi, hosting of the office of the “Japanese Cooperation Center for the Middle East (JCCME)” in its headquarters since 2009, which in turn paved the way for the (35th Japan Cooperation Forum for the Middle East) to convene in Abu Dhabi in 2010.Recent statistics of the UAE and Japan bilateral trade show that the value of total trade during the period (Jan-Jun) 2011 increased by 30.5%, to reach $23.82 billion, compared to the same period in 2010. Moreover, UAE’s overall exports to Japan during the first half of 2011 amounted to $ 20.65 billion, compared to $14.67 billion for the same period in 2010, marking an increase by approximately 40%. On the other hand, figures of non-oil trade between UAE and Japan during the first half of 2011 revealed a reduction by 9%, compared to the same period in 2010, where the drop was mainly in the Japanese exports to UAE, which decreased by 11%. The decline in Japanese exports to the UAE could primarily be attributed to the impact of the great East Japan earthquake on the 11th of March 2011, and its implication on various sectors.
Distinguished Attendees….In Abu Dhabi we perceived the latest world financial and economic crises, as a practical examination for checking the efficiency of our national economy, and our ability to deal with or adapt to sudden regional and international developments, in addition to realizing the degree of our openness towards the world economic system. The regional ongoing challenges, which include both economic slowdown and regional unrest, have undoubtedly proven, that the economic progress and stability that the emirate had accomplished over the last few years, was neither a coincidence nor a short-lived booming; however, it was the result of the sensible vision, sound planning and lucid thought of the emirate's leadership. Evidently, Abu Dhabi’s economy has experienced an important shift along the recovery path in 2010, where total output grew by 15.9%, whereas non-oil GDP increased by 5.5% in 2010 compared to 1.3% in 2009, which in turn reflects improvement within non-oil activities. Moreover, non-oil GDP captured 50.3% of the emirate’s total GDP, while oil GDP accounted for 49.7% in 2010. This also mirrors the steady progress along the emirate’s diversification path. Ladies and Gentlemen….Based upon Abu Dhabi’s firm fundamentals, it is clear that the emirate stands as a promising hub for investments and partnerships, stirred particularly by the government-targeted 10 focus sectors. These sectors enjoy great and effective government support, backed by huge infrastructure investments. In fact, Abu Dhabi offers a considerable package of incentives to foreign investors and companies wishing to invest in the emirate, including world-class infrastructure, free flow of capital, exemption from corporate and individual income tax, full repatriation of capital, free transfer of profits, in addition to full exemption of duties on capital and intermediate goods within the manufacturing industry. Moreover, the strategic geographical location reflects positively on the marketing ability of companies operating in the Emirate.Currently, the Department of Economic Development is working on the setting of a dedicated Investment Promotion Agency, which will act as the focal point for all foreign direct investors, to facilitate and promote inward investment in the emirate, provide proper feedback and furthermore act as an aiding tool to policy makers in order to regularly enhance the investment regulating framework. Besides, the agency will open international offices to promote the emirate as a globally competitive destination. The new agency will seek to identify areas of opportunities for potential investors, and serve as a one-stop shop for licensing and registration of business enterprises and venture projects. It is worth noting that Abu Dhabi government has set, the boosting of FDI as a key priority, as the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 targets FDI to capture 23% of GDP by 2030. Meanwhile, prospective investments between UAE and Japan are quite promising. The UAE is Japan’s second largest provider of crude oil, which, in general, has attracted many Japanese investments to the energy sector. Investments figures also reveal that UAE is regarded as a major and primary destination for Japanese investments in the MENA region, as UAE is increasingly becoming home to major Japanese companies operating in the region. Recent statistics show that Japanese FDI in the UAE reached more than $ 370 million by the end of 2010. Respected Attendees…These opening remarks won’t be complete without shedding light on the valued and exceptional efforts of the Japanese authorities and the people of Japan, to surpass the impacts and ramification of the Great East Japan Earthquake. Since March 11th earthquake and tsunami, Japan had taken great strides along the path of recovery and healing, where the government quick efforts and actions were widely hailed in Japan and worldwide. Hence, we praise and honor the magnificence and cohesion of the Japanese society, where every individual did perform his role efficiently. I do believe that the disaster has revealed the actual solidity and resilience of the Japanese society and the country’s technical advancement. Japan is a nation that deserves respect and appreciation. Personally, I highly regard the leading role of the Japanese SMEs in the speeding up of recovery, which, surely, entails several success stories. Therefore, I cordially encourage the Japanese government to share the accumulated experiences and skills that enabled the harmonious coexistence with nature. I believe the Japanese dissemination of this kind of expertise would enrich the international community with lustrous wealth and primacy of how to cope with natural disasters.Ladies and gentlemen…. During the sixty-sixth session of the United Nations General Assembly last September, H.E. Mr. Yoshihiko Noda, Prime Minister of Japan, revealed key guidelines regarding the realization of the sustainable growth of the Japanese economy, through the promotion of a low-carbon society and the transition into a green economy. Moreover, H.E. the Prime Minister of Japan, identified technological innovation in areas of renewable energy, energy saving, and clean use of fossil fuels as key leverage for Japan’s sustainable growth. AccordinglyWith Abu Dhabi’s promising future and prospects of becoming a regional and international powerhouse for knowledge and technology in renewable and sustainable energy, certainly, the conditions now are favorable and the way ahead is paved. Today, this forum represents the ideal platform for tapping current, potential and forthcoming investment opportunities. In addition, the designation of Abu Dhabi, as the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), emphasizes Abu Dhabi’s position as the promising hub for renewable energy, and reaffirms its contribution to the global renewable energy industry. Ladies and Gentlemen…We may all agree that the increasing uncertainty and the proliferating challenges and threats to the world economy, require precaution and calls for profound changes in response. Despite the considerable progress achieved so far in realizing world economic stability, we must not let ambiguity impede our efforts along the way to prosperity. As we convene here today, I enthusiastically invite Japanese and UAE investors to work in cooperation, hand in hand, and aim high to attain the objectives of our societies.Once again I am greatly honored by sharing this important event with you, wishing furtherance, strength and solidity for Japanese-UAE relations at all times