Lectures at Japan Cooperation Forum for the Middle East in Vienna and Safety Measures Seminar

August 2017

Disseminating current information on Middle East and North Africa

JETRO participated in the “42nd Japan Cooperation Forum for the Middle East" in Vienna, Austria, from August 26 to 27, organized by the Japan Cooperation Center for the Middle East (JCCME), where JETRO President Yasushi Akahoshi spoke under the theme of "China's One Belt One Road (OBOR) Initiative and its Main Projects."

On the following day, a seminar on safety measures titled "A Discussion on Trends and Business Risks in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) with Experts" was held by JETRO and joined by more than 80 Japanese business people.

President Akahoshi's interpretation of China's OBOR Initiative

The 42nd Japan Cooperation Forum for the Middle East, which is held overseas by JCCME on a yearly basis, has been joined by numerous Japanese business people active in the MENA region, and features presentations on the latest regional information. This year, a session titled "The Competitive International Environment and Japan's Response in Accordance with China's OBOR Initiative" was set up from the perspective of how the Middle East and Japan would likely be mobilized by internal and external factors.

Mr. Akahoshi made a presentation under the theme of “China’s OBOR Initiative and its Main Projects.” He explained that the OBOR concept was first brought up in 2013 and that its name has since taken root. OBOR is an initiative closely linked to China’s existing foreign policies and flows of outward direct investment, but incorporates new tools such as infrastructure development and financing. Mr. Akahoshi continued that OBOR has been planned through various cooperative fields along with the three-pronged land-based Silk Road Economic Belt and the two-pronged seagoing 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, as well as six economic corridors. He gave an explanation on the major projects in each economic corridor. According to his interpretation, all of these concepts together suggest three overarching agendas: the promotion of China’s maritime policy (including port operation), stable procurement of resources and the creation of a China-led economic zone. While the area under development is still growing larger, it seems China has to cope with a discrepancy of expectations between it and other countries along trade lines.

Following the presentation session, Mr. Akahoshi and the other five presenters engaged in a discussion on the impact of the OBOR Initiative on Japanese companies and the Middle East, giving the audience a chance to deepen their understanding on the topic.

The 42nd Japan Cooperation Forum for the Middle East

Presentation by JETRO President Akahoshi

Safety Measures Seminar organized by JETRO

On August 28, the day after the meeting; as a part of the “Project Concerning Cultivating New Markets in Emerging Countries" conducted by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry; JETRO organized its third "Middle East-North Africa Safety Measures Seminar,” following those held in Istanbul in 2014 and Munich in 2015. The presenters were Yoshiki Hatanaka, Adviser to the Energy and Environment Program of the International Development Center of Japan (IDCJ), and Shinobu Nakamura, Principal Representative of JETRO Tehran. The former gave an economic analysis on the Middle East and the latter spoke on Iran, which has been drawing attention from around the world with the recent lifting and relaxation of economic sanctions.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Akahoshi stated that JETRO would like to disseminate the latest information on the MENA region in light of the fact that security measures against political instability and terrorism is a critical issue while business needs are increasing due to population growth and the increased entry of Japanese companies into the region.

Safety Measures Seminar

Mr. Hatanaka presented a broad range of topics across the MENA region, such as the recent terror attack in Spain involving Moroccan extremists. Regarding the diplomatic crisis between Qatar on one side and countries including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on the other, he predicted that it would not likely end soon as both sides remain focused on saving face*. He also explained that the risk of terror attacks by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are increasing in other regions such as Europe and Southeast Asia while it faces defeat in Iraq, and spoke on the increased consolidation of power in Saudi Arabia and Turkey. (*Analysis as of August 28)

Mr. Nakamura elaborated on the political, economic and security climate in Iran, starting with the re-election of moderate President Rouhani in May 2017 who is pushing an open-door economic policy and the new younger cabinet he has formed. He spoke about the shock of the Iranian people in learning that Iranians were involved in the terrorist attack by ISIS within their country in June, but emphasized the fact that security has remained stable since then. And finally, he touched on the fact that Iran is back on the track to economic growth following the lifting and relaxation of economic sanctions, with the exception of a few still continued by the US, and its increased trade in FY2016.

JETRO President Akahoshi

Research Advisor Hatanaka of IDCJ

JETRO Tehran's Principal Representative Nakamura

During a question and answer session, Mr. Hatanaka was asked about the opening of the Turkish military training camp in Somalia, the background of Israeli support of Kurdish independence and Yemen’s civil war. Mr. Nakamura was also asked about due diligence in conducting business in Iran. Both speakers answered all questions.

JETRO will continue to disseminate information on the security climate and business risks in the MENA region.

Q&A session at Safety Measures Seminar

Outline of Middle East-North Africa Security Measures Seminar

Date and time Monday, August 28, 2017 from 10:00 to 12:00
Venue Hilton Vienna Hotel Venues - Klimt Ballroom 2
Organizer Japan External Trade Organization
Co-organizer Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
10:00 –
Opening remarks, Yasushi Akahoshi, President, JETRO
10:05 –
"Political and security climate and business risks in Middle East and North Africa"
Yoshiki Hatanaka, Advisor to the Energy and Environment Program, International Development Center of Japan
11:05 –
Coffee break
11:10 –
"The latest politics, security and economic climate in Iran"
Shinobu Nakamura, Principal Representative, JETRO Tehran
11:40 –
Q&A session