By Andy Sambidge
More than $11bn worth of Japanese vehicles imported into GCC region in 2010, up from $8bn in 2009
The value of Japan's trade with GCC countries surged in 2010, driven by strong growth in Japan's motor vehicle exports.
Vehicles made up 57.9 percent of Japan's exports to the GCC, with a value of $11.6bn in 2010, compared to $8bn in 2009.
Exports of cars surged by 54.7 percent to $8.6bn against $5.5bn in the previous year while people carriers and trucks also saw significant increases.
The increase in Japanese cars being exported came as the GCC region's auto sales saw a recovery in 2010 after falling dramatically during the global crisis in 2009.
In total, the two-way trade grew between Japan and the GCC rose by 24.7 percent to $122.4bn, compared to $98.2bn in 2009, latest trade figures showed.
Exports grew by 14.4 percent to $20.1bn and imports by 26.9 percent to $102.3bn.
A strong growth in demand for motor vehicles, iron and steel, rubber, aluminium and chemicals indicated a revival in the GCC consumer and industrial sectors compared to 2009.
Nearly 99 percent of Japan's imports from the GCC were comprised of mineral fuels including crude oils, gaseous hydrocarbons, light oils and oil preparations.
The surge in the value of Japan's imports from the GCC in 2010 was mainly attributed to the increase in the price of crude oils and petroleum gases.
Japan imported 991.5 million barrels of crude oil from the GCC in 2010, which was 3.23 percent less than the volume in 2009, but was 74.6 percent of Japan's total crude oil requirements in 2010.
The GCC, and Qatar in particular, was also a major source of petroleum gases to Japan last year.
Japan's aluminium imports from the GCC surged in 2010 by 183.5 percent to $401.29m, with the UAE the top supplier.
The export of machinery from Japan to the GCC continued to decline in 2010 but at a slower pace as the Gulf region's construction industry struggled to recover from the global economic downturn.
The value of Japan's general machinery exports to the GCC stood at $2.8bn in 2010, against $3.3bn in 2009 while the value of electrical machinery exports fell to $1.3bn lasy year, down $600m on 2009.
Trade figures for 2011 are likely to take a hit due to the impact of the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March, which forced the closure of manufacturing centres.