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There is a special authority for Japan’s foreign trade called Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), which encourages Japanese companies to head abroad, as Japan relies on its companies’ and citizens’ investments to temper the balance of payments and motivate Japanese exports abroad. It also provides logistics facilities for new investors in Japan. Director of the Middle East and Africa research department at the organization Takashi Tsunemi said the organization has five offices in the Middle East in Dubai, Riyadh, Istanbul, Tehran and Tel Aviv.
Tsunemi spoke about Japanese investments in Kuwait and pointed to allocating 35 percent for the offset program being a big hurdle that reduces Kuwait’s competitiveness, compared with other countries in the region that do not impose such a high percentage. About the reduction of oil prices, he said despite Japan’s benefits from reduced oil cost, it fears negative repercussions also, because the Middle East and oil countries in particular make a very important investment field for Japanese companies.
They have allocated a large portion of their income for infrastructure projects in partnership with Japanese companies, adding that a large number of these companies, nearly 400, have opened offices in Dubai and run business from there despite the challenges of the oil prices drop and the growing threat of IS. Tsunemi said Japanese companies are distinguished by commitment towards countries they invest in, and they withdraw quickly as challenges appear, and this is what distinguishes them.
He expressed worry towards the deep differences between Saudi Arabia and Iran. “This worries us as Saudi Arabia is a market that has 30 million consumers, and this highly interests us, in addition to being an important source of oil.
Also Iran, which has 80 million people, and after sanctions on it were lifted, interests us. A conference was held in Tokyo about investment opportunities there with the attendance of 310 participants,” Tsunemi said, adding, “It is not in the interest of Japanese companies for the situation to worsen.”
*Originally published on Kuwait Times on Feb. 9th, 2016.