First Meeting of the Japan-Arab Economic Forum
(Summary and Assessment)

December 10, 2009

The first meeting of the Japan-Arab Economic Forum was held jointly by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan, and the League of Arab States (LAS), for two days on December 7 (Monday) and 8 (Tuesday) in Tokyo (Chinzan-so).

The purpose of the Forum is to strengthen mutual economic relations between Japan and the Arab countries through cooperation in a wide range of fields, such as trade, investment, energy, technology and human resource development. Approximately 1,200 people -- primarily concerned parties from Japanese and Arab economy -- related organizations and businesses-participated in the two-day event.

1. Schedule

December 6 (Sun.):
Reception hosted jointly by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan and the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan (at the Iikura Guest House)
December 7 (Mon.):
Joint Ministerial-level Meeting, with participants from governments and private sector
December 8 (Tues.):
Private Business Seminar

2. Participants

Japanese Side:
Mr. Katsuya Okada, Minister for Foreign Affairs; Mr. Koichi Takemasa, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs; Mr. Shuji Kira, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs
Mr. Masayuki Naoshima, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry; Mr. Teruhiko Mashiko, Senior Vice Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry
Mr. Jiro Nemoto, Chairman of the Japan Cooperation Center for the Middle East
Mr. Fujio Mitarai, Chairman of Nippon Keidanren (Japan Business Federation); Mr. Fumiaki Watari, Vice Chairman of Nippon Keidanren
Arab Side:
Mr. Amre Moussa, Secretary General of the LAS
Mr. Safa Al-Din Al-Safi, Head of the Economic and Social Council of the LAS
Mr. Habib Ben Yahia, Secretary-General of the Arab-Maghreb Union (proponent of the founding of the Forum)
Economy-related ministers of the members of the LAS (listed at end)

3. Summary

(1) Prior to the reception held jointly by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry on the 6th, a signing ceremony was held in the Iikura Guest House for the Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC), which deals with the founding of the Forum. The MOC was signed by Mr. Katsuya Okada, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Mr. Masayuki Naoshima, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry on the Japan side, and by Mr. Amre Moussa, Secretary General of the LAS on the Arab side.

(2) At the opening ceremony on the 7th, opening remarks were given by Mr. Okada, Mr. Naoshima, Mr. Mitarai, Mr. Moussa, and Mr. Al-Safi. Mr. Okada expressed his expectations for the Forum, namely that through the Forum, Japan and the LAS would strengthen ties that promote mutual benevolence in a broad range of fields, such as human resource development, the environment, and science and technology, which will contribute to the sustainable development of the economies of not only Japan and the Arab countries, but of the entire world.

(3) Following the opening ceremony, under the three themes of Session 1: Human Relations, Session 2: Energy, Water and Future, and Session 3: Trade & Investment, discussions were held in a wide array of fields, such as education, human resource development, energy, the environment, science and technology, trade, and investment. Mr. Takemasa presided over Session 1. The Chair's Summary of the discussion on the 7th (as attached [PDF]) was announced at the closing ceremony.

(4) The program on the 8th was led by private business, with sectional meetings on fields such as financing for investment, water business, cooperation on solar power system, industry, trade, the environment, and tourism, as well as presentations given on business environment and opportunities from the Arab side. From the Japan side, presentations were given in fields of strength for Japan, such as science and scientific research and technology, content industry (entertainment industry), small- and medium-sized businesses, intellectual property rights and anti-counterfeit enforcement and plant factories.

4. Assessment

(1) The Forum was the first joint government and business conference on the economy to be held between Japan and the Arab countries, and it enjoyed of approximately 300 people from the Arab economic world, and it met expectations from the Arab side of desiring to build multilayered relationships with Japan on not only the economy, but also a broad range of other areas, such as education, science and technology, and culture.

(2) At the same time, approximately 900 people mainly from economic circles on the Japan side participated, expressing the Japan economic world's rising interest in the Arab countries, whose presence in the global economy is growing rapidly. The Forum also contributed to deeper mutual understanding between both the governments and private sectors of Japan and the Arab world.

(3) Mr. Okada took this opportunity to have discussions individually with Mr. Moussa, Mr. Ben Yahia, Syria's Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Mr. Abdullah Al-Dardari, and others, where they exchanged views on regional affairs and bilateral relations.

(4) The second meeting of the Forum is set to be held next year in Tunisia. The focus will be what concrete results will be achieved by the second meeting, born out of the cooperation in various fields specified in the Chair's Summary announced at the first meeting of the Forum.

5. Participating Representatives from the Arab Side

  • (1) H.E. Mr. Amre Moussa, Secretary General of the League of Arab States
  • (2) H.E. Mr. Habib Ben Yahia, Secretary-General of the Arab-Maghreb Union (AMU)
  • (3) H.E. Mr. Safa Al-Din Al-Safi, Acting Minister of Trade of Iraq (Head of the Economic and Social Council of the League of Arab States)
  • (4) H.E. Dr. Yahya Yahya Mohammed Al-Mutawakel, Minister of Industry and Trade of Yemen
  • (5) H.E. Dr. Khalid Bin Mohamed Al Attiyah, Minister of State for International Cooperation of Qatar and Acting Minister of Business & Trade of Qatar
  • (6) H.E. Mr. Abdullah Al-Dardari, Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs of Syria
  • (7) H.E. Dr. El Tigani Salih Fidail, Minister of International Cooperation of the Sudan Government of National Unity
  • (8) H.E. Prof. Peter Adwok Nyaba Tor, Minister of Higher Education & Scientific Research of the Sudan Government of National Unity
  • (9) H.E. Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, Minister of Commerce, Trade and Supply of the Government of Southern Sudan
  • (10) H.E. Mr. Mohamed Nouri Jouini, Minister of Development and International Cooperation of Tunisia
  • (11) H.E. Mr. Mohamed Abdellahi Ould Oudda, Minister of Industry and Mines of Mauritania
  • (12) H.E. Ms. Amina Benkhadra, Minister of Energy, Mine, Water and Environment of Morocco
  • (13) H.E. Ms. Hala Bseiso Lattouf, Minister of Social Development of Jordan

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