Kuwaiti-Japanese Businessmen''s Committee explores future cooperation

Kuwaiti and Japanese businessmen on Wednesday pledged more active economic ties and explored future cooperation between the two countries in various fields, including infrastructure projects. In his congratulatory speech addressing the 16th Kuwaiti-Japanese Businessmen's Committee here, Japanese Vice-Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Keiro Kitagami renewed Japan's gratitude for unstinted assistance, and expressions of condolences and sympathies from Kuwait in the wake of the March disasters, especially the donation of 5 million barrels of crude oil.
"On behalf of the Japanese government and the people, I would like to extend sincere thanks to H.H. the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti government and people for their sense of solidarity and generosity, which deeply touched us," Kitagami said. Kuwait's contribution of 5 million barrels of crude oil, equivalent to some USD 500 million, was decided in April upon directives of H.H. the Amir in the wake of a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami on March 11 that left nearly 21, 000 people dead or missing.
"We have already received all 5 million barrels of oil by last month and the donation is used for recovery efforts in the disaster-hit area," said Kitagami.
He also highlighted Japanese firms' interests in participation and technical cooperation in Kuwait 's Five-Year Development Plan running through 2014, such as water system, railway, oil refinery, seaport and environment. Noting that the two countries celebrate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties this year, Kitagami said Wednesday's committee will further promote Kuwait-Japan friendship and comprehensive cooperation. Kuwaiti outgoing Minister of State for Planning and Development Affairs Abdulwahab Al-Haroun welcomed Japan's active engagement in various projects under the development plan, in which the Kuwaiti government will spend USD 102 billion in the next four years in order to transform the country into an international economic hub. Al-Haroun also commended a role played by the committee in the development of bilateral commercial and economic relations between the two countries, underlining the committee's significant assistance in conducting a feasibility study for introduction of Integrated Solar Combined Cycle technology to Kuwait that could ease its severe electricity shortage every summer. The one-day talks, which brought together some 120 government officials and businessmen from various sectors of both countries, will be followed by a seminar on investment opportunities in Kuwait on Thursday.
The Kuwaiti delegation included officials from Supreme Council for Planning and Development, Partnerships Technical Bureau, Kuwait Institute for Scientific Researches, Kuwait Metro Rapid Transportation Co., Kuwait Foreign Investment Bureau and other government sectors. For his part, Japanese Ambassador to Kuwait Yasuyoshi Komizo thanked major supports from the Kuwaiti leadership and the people after the March disasters, adding that many Kuwaiti friends have offered support and held charity concerts. "During my visit to Ishinomaki City in the disaster-hit area till yesterday, local people showed their gratitude for Kuwait 's oil donation. At an elementary school in the city, I also delivered pictures drawn by Kuwaiti pupils to the Japanese children, which they welcomed with a deep appreciation. " Komizo also emphasized on the need of enhanced bilateral cooperation in the fields of education and healthcare. The annual economic meeting, co-chaired by Khaled Al-Sager and his Japanese counterpart Hiroshi Saito, came amid growing uncertainty over the global economy and the unfavourable circumstances surrounding the two nations for different reasons, Al-Sager noted in his opening address. "Yet our economies are expected to regain their momentum shortly," said Al-Sager, who also serves as Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry Deputy Chairman. "Last year, the Parliament passed a privatization law and economic development plan. If implemented, the plan will reshape the local economic landscape and provide a stream of major projects to which Japanese investors and business can no doubt contribute a great deal in terms of experience and expertise." According to Al-Sager, bilateral trade value between Kuwait and Japan reached USD 13.44 billion in 2010, and the figure has redoubled four times since the inception of the committee 15 years ago. He also said Japan is Kuwait 's third-biggest supplier after the US and China . National Bank of Kuwait made a presentation about outlook for the Kuwaiti economy and the state-run Kuwait National Offset Company briefed the Japanese side on recent updates of the offset program. The Japanese side outlined Japan's New growth strategy and outlook for its economy. There were also proposals/presentation of a environment-friendly urban development project by Japan's major plant engineering firm JGC Corp., and a modern urban transit system by Hitachi., Ltd., one of the world's biggest monorail manufacturers. Kuwait 's First Secretary Mohammed Al-Mutairi also attended the meeting. The Kuwaiti-Japanese Businessmen's Committee, first launched in 1995, was organized by the Japanese Cooperation Center for the Middle East (JCCME) with the objectives of encouraging and promoting feasible and viable projects and joint ventures available in both countries. Founded in 1973 under the sponsorship of the Japanese government, the JCCME has been promoting Japan's investment and transfer of technology to the Middle East . The non-profit organization also has a Japan Desk in Kuwait , which plays a bridging role between private companies of Kuwait and Japan to help them establish joint ventures.