The UAE and five other oil producing Gulf states recorded a sharp increase in exports of goods to Japan by nearly 40% in 2011, widening the trade surplus, official data suggested.
Figures released by the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) suggest exports by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to Asia’s biggest economy skyrocketed to nearly $141.1 billion in 2011, from around $101.9 billion a year before.
Japan’s exports to the GCC declined to around $19.56 billion from $20.02 billion during the same period.
The JETRO report showed that Saudi Arabia, the largest Arab economy and the world’s top crude producer, was the biggest Middle East exporter to Japan, exporting goods worth $50.3 billion in 2011, up from $35.7 billion in 2010.
The UAE, the second largest Arab economy, was behind Saudi in GCC exports, making around $42.7 billion compared with $29.2 billion in the same period.
However, the UAE topped the list of importers from Japan, with imports worth nearly $7.44 billion, beating Saudi Arabia’s Japanese import bill of around $6.48 billion in 2011.
Qatar was the third largest exporter thanks to the sharp rise in its LNG supplies to Japan. The Japanese trade agency’s report suggested Qatari exports grew from around $21.6 billion in 2010 to $30.05 billion in 2011. The gas-rich Gulf nation’s exports to Tokyo were less than $10 billion in 2009.
Kuwait also ramped up its exports to Japan, mostly crude oil, raking around $13.09 billion from nearly $10.2 billion.
Oman managed to increase its trade with the Far Eastern nation to $5.13 billion from $4.49 billion during 2011.
Bahrain’s exports to Japan, mostly ammonium, registered a slight increase to the tune of around $722 million from $658 million during the same period.
Japan’s imports from the GCC states last year hovered closer to the record 2008 imports of around $144 billion, when crude prices hit an all time high of about $95. Average crude prices exceeded $100 a barrel in 2011. However, analysts suggest the lower value of GCC exports to Japan was the main reason behind the slight fall in the volume of Tokyo’s crude imports from the six members, which possess nearly 40% of the world’s oil reserves.