The UAE-Japan SME Platform was officially inaugurated in Abu Dhabi today (Sunday, October 8, 2017) in the presence of H.E. Engr. Sultan Saeed Al Mansoori, UAE Minister of Economy, and H.E. Hiroshige Seko, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan.
The platform will support bilateral efforts to develop the vital small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector. It was formed under the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the UAE Ministry of Economy (MOE) and the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) in January 2017 concerning innovation and SMEs and the facilitation of communication and cooperation between the countries' entrepreneurs.
The platform was inaugurated by H.E. Engr. Sultan Saeed Al Mansoori, UAE Minister of Economy, and H.E. Hiroshige Seko, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan in the presence of H.E. Abdullah Al Saleh, the MOE's Undersecretary for Foreign Trade and Industry; Mr. Osamu Mizui, Executive Vice President of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO); and Mr. Masami Ando, Managing Director of JETRO Dubai & MENA. Other senior government officials and entrepreneurs involved in the SME sectors of the UAE and Japan attended as well.
The platform is one of the key service and development programs implemented by JETRO to facilitate the access of SMEs to the international markets. It provides support and facilities for building business and strategic partnerships with the public-private organizations of some of the most promising markets in the world. It is the 22nd platform of Japan in the world and the first of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa managed by JETRO.
Under the framework of the platform and in cooperation with the representatives of other Economic Development departments, various Chambers of Commerce and Industry and free zones in the UAE, JETRO has appointed expert coordinators to support Japanese SMEs interested in expanding their business and making investments in the UAE. JETRO will collaborate with the UAE's government entities in streamlining the process of establishing businesses and solving business-related issues.
Today's inauguration ceremony featured the signing of the MoU between JETRO and the Dubai Department of Economic Development as part of coordinated activities supporting the platform. Other MoUs are expected to be signed with the economic development departments of the other emirates to expand the platform's framework and to enhance economic and trade relations between the parties.
H.E. Engr. Al Mansoori said that the UAE and Japan have formed an exemplary partnership based on mutually beneficial cooperation in the commercial and economic fields. The Minister further highlighted recent steps that have been taken to develop effective mechanisms and models for cooperation between the two countries by focusing on sectors of common interest, most notably SMEs. He noted that the inauguration of the UAE-Japan SME Platform will support these efforts, facilitate communication and cooperation between Emirati and Japanese entrepreneurs, and encourage the establishment of trade and investment partnerships that will deepen bilateral relations and advance the development goals of both sides.
The Minister added that there is room for greater cooperation between the SMEs of Japan and the UAE in light of the deep economic and trade relations between their countries. He encouraged more collaboration in taking advantage of opportunities within the priority sectors under the UAE's development agenda, particularly renewable energy, infrastructure, construction, transportation, aerospace, advanced technology, tourism, aviation, financial services, health care, and education.
He pointed out that SMEs form the backbone of the UAE's economy, as it generates job opportunities, promotes competition, creates new industries, and drives sustainable economic growth. He pointed out that there are more than 450,000 SMEs in the country, and that the national target is to raise the share of SMEs in the gross domestic product (GDP) of the UAE to 70 per cent by 2021. He further stated that the launch of the UAE-Japan SME platform in the UAE aims to offer a wide range of opportunities for the private sectors and entrepreneurs of the partner countries, especially in the fields of innovation and high technology which he referred to as among the top priorities of the national vision's approach to development.
Minister Seko, on the other hand, said that the UAE-Japan SME platform will attract more Japanese businesses and entrepreneurs to the UAE, which will in turn deepen economic and trade partnerships between the two countries and open wider investment horizons within the coming years.
For his part, H.E. Al Saleh said that the UAE-Japan SME Platform will facilitate the establishment of fruitful partnerships between the entrepreneurs of both countries and encourage leading Japanese companies to engage in various vital activities in the UAE.
He also pointed out that the expansion of the platform in the country will enhance efforts to promote the various opportunities available to Japanese companies. It will also contribute to the sharing of experiences, the transfer of technology, and the enrichment of the UAE's business environment.
Mr. Mizui stated that the inauguration of platforms for Japanese SMEs in promising markets enables Japanese entrepreneurs to expand their businesses in these markets. He pointed out that the newly-inaugurated platform is the 22nd for Japan in the world and the first in the Middle East and North Africa managed by JETRO. He explained that this mechanism will provide an advanced level of coordination and cooperation with public-private organizations in the UAE to support entrepreneurs and to strengthen the presence of Japanese SMEs in the UAE market.
Mr. Ando added that the coordinators of the platform are well-experienced business advisors who provide consultation and advice to Japanese SMEs. He said that the UAE's governmental organizations, Chambers of Commerce, free zones and other local organizations will cooperate with the platform as Support Organizations, and assist SMEs in developing their businesses in the UAE.