The tsunami of 2011 that forced Japan to shut down its nuclear power plants, has pushed energy imports from Gulf that helped the two-way trade between the GCC and Japan to grow 12.3 per cent to $182.13 billion last year, compared to $162.23 billion in 2011, said a latest report by Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro).
Crude oil remained e the dominant commodity of Japan’s imports from the GCC countries, covering 74.4 per cent of the total imports. Including petroleum gases and other petroleum products, the share of mineral fuels reached 98.9 per cent of the total imports in 2012.
The value of Japan’ crude oil imports from the GCC countries rose by 7.7 per cent to $115.8 billion in 2012, from $107.5 billion in 2011.
“Japan experienced increased demand for mineral fuels to substitute the lost electric power caused by the shutdown of nuclear plants across Japan, since the recent earthquake and the tsunami,” the report said.
In March 2011, a tsunami, caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake, damaged the Fukushima Nuclear Electric Plant, prompting the authorities to suspend the functioning of almost all the nuclear plants in the country, for severe inspections on safety requirements and also for regular maintenance.
This situation necessitated Japan to increase the import of mineral fuels, especially gaseous hydrocarbons, to compensate the loss of electric power from stopped power plants. “In addition to the above circumstances, the American sanctions on crude oil import from Iran have also made Japan rely more on GCC oil and gas supplies,” it said. “And, as a result of all these, in 2012, Japan’s trade deficit with the GCC countries increased by 7.5 per cent to $132.2 billion from $123 billion in 2011.
Japan’s exports to the GCC countries grew 27.1 per cent to $24.94 billion in 2012 from $19.63 billion in the previous year, and imports increased 10.2 per cent to $157.18 billion from $142.60 billion.
“The high growth in Japan’s exports to the GCC countries was mainly attributed to the reconstruction and rehabilitation of vehicle and vehicle parts production facilities in the earthquake and tsunami-hit areas of North-East Japan, and partly to the gradual strengthening of GCC economies that were earlier weakened by the bad effects of the global financial crisis of 2008,” the report said.