The Second Meeting of the Japan-Arab Economic Forum: Promotion of Cooperation in Fields including Energy, Environment, Human Resource Development, Education, Science and Technology, Investment, Tourism, Finance, and Trade

December 14, 2010

On December 11 and 12, 2010, Japan and the League of Arab States co-organized the second meeting of the Japan-Arab Economic Forum in Tunis, Tunisia. From Japan, H.E. Mr. Seiji Maehara, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and H.E. Mr. Akihiro Ohata, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, attended the meeting. A total of approximately 1,100 people from Japan and Arab countries, including some 30 minister-level officials, also attended this second meeting of the forum following the first one held in Tokyo in December 2009. The forum was a grand occasion in which approximately 40 cooperation projects were agreed to and announced.

In his opening address, Minister Maehara spoke about Japan's economic diplomacy toward Arab countries, whereby Japan seeks to develop together with these countries, which are growing into attractive markets and investment destinations. He urged the Arab countries to promote the utilization of Japan's advanced technologies when developing infrastructures. Minister Maehara also explained that Japan has been making contributions to human resource development by accepting 4,000 trainees from Arab countries annually through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). He called on Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to promote negotiations for Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Japan. Minister Ohata expressed his wish for Japan and the Arab countries to mutually enhance their relationship of trust further through forum meetings. He raised his expectation that the forum would create seeds for business in the future.

The Tunisia Declaration, which was announced this time as a Japan-Arab Joint Statement, calls for i) cooperation in the fields of energy and environment, for solar energy, water, and nuclear energy in particular; ii) cooperation in the fields of human resource development, education, science and technology, with reference to the Japanese economic cooperation projects: the Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology "E-JUST" and the Borj Cedria Science and Technology Park in Tunisia; and iii) cooperation in the field of investment, tourism, finance, and trade. The Arab side highly praised Japan's resolve to support the Middle East peace process and its position on Israeli settlement activities, which Minister Maehara expressed and stated explicitly. The next forum meeting will be held in Tokyo in 2012.

Minister Maehara also held talks with Mr. Amre Moussa, Secretary General of the League of Arab States. Both sides agreed to develop Japan-Arab relations in the field of culture, in addition to politics and the economy and, to that end, to hold a forum for Japanese and Arab intellectuals in 2011. In addition, a Japan-Maghreb Ministerial Meeting was held for the first time in the history of Japan's relations with the Maghreb countries, with the purpose of reinforcing cooperative relations. Both sides confirmed common areas of interest such as infrastructure development and renewable energy, and decided to hold consultations in order to bring about specific projects.

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