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Kuwait PM highlights importance of Arab investments ‘Arab economies share common concern in efforts to build partnerships and encourage SMEs’

KUWAIT CITY, Dec 11: Kuwait recognizes the importance of the localization of Arab investments and attracting foreign investments to the region and has also supported many initiatives, projects and organizations along the lines of achieving that objective,” were the words of Kuwait’s Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah, as he spoke at the Arab Investment Meeting (AIM) Wednesday at the Regency Hotel, Kuwait. Affirming Kuwait’s support for Arab initiatives aimed at ensuring the general welfare of the people, Prime Minister Al Sabah stated that Kuwait, in coordination with Arab countries bilaterally and multilaterally, is keen to promote and support all efforts, initiatives and events aimed at promoting inter-Arab cooperation in various fields, mainly economic development matters, and particularly investment issues which is a pillar of growth, employment and welfare of the Arab people.

In his speech at the two day meeting (Dec 11-12, 2013) themed on “Investment Attractiveness Gap”, Sheikh Al-Sabah also added in his opening speech, which was delivered on his behalf by Kuwait’s Commerce and Industry Minister Anas Khalid Al-Saleh, that the issue of redirecting Arab investments and attracting foreign investment from all over the world is not solely the responsibility of Investment Promotion Agencies. “As proven in successful international experiences, it’s the result of cooperation from all relevant stakeholders, especially the planning, legislation, infrastructure and all agencies related to the performance of the business environment”, he said.

Sheikh Al Sabah also stressed in his speech that “Kuwait recognizes the importance of the localization of Arab investments and attracting foreign investments to the region and has also supported many initiatives, projects and organizations along the lines of achieving that objective”.
He continued to review and mention a number of Kuwaiti initiatives in this field, citing particularly the continuous growth of the Kuwaiti investments in Arab countries which culminated in Kuwait being classified as the largest exporter of inter-Arab investments, not also mentioning Kuwait’s role in establishing and hosting many Arab economic organizations.

Abdulatif Y. Al-Hamad, Director General/Chairman of the Board of Directors of The Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development stressed the importance of AIM in strengthening Arab cooperation in the fields of economy, investment and development. Foreign Direct Investment-FDI, in its various forms has become a key element and a main pillar of economies, especially after globalization, the opening up of markets to each other, and the accelerated movement of people, money, goods and information from one place to another.
Al-Hamad also cited for praise the editorial by Dhaman’s Director-General Fahad Al-Ibrahim, in the first report on the “Dhaman Investment Attractiveness Index (DIAI)” where he pointed out that Arab economies have not yet succeeded in becoming major sites to attract foreign investments, especially as its share of the total global FDI flows globally did not exceed 5% on average over the past ten years.
Also, many studies and data available point to Arab countries’ failure in attracting foreign investments, with the exception of two Gulf States, Saudi Arabia and UAE, which combined account for 46% of the total inward FDI to Arab countries in 2012 which reached US$ 48 billion.

For his part, Sheikh Dr Meshaal Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah - Director General, Kuwait Direct Investment Promotion Authority (KDIPA), affirmed that AIM aims to create a constructive dialogue between those responsible for planning and development, on one hand, and investment promotion on the other. He also added that the meeting will be looking at reviewing the status and identifying the limits and obstacles in order to enhance coordination, frameworks and cooperation and to make a better effort to improve the attractiveness for investments in the region.
The  KDIPA Director-General noted that despite the diversity of Arab economies in terms of the contribution of investment to GDP as well as in the volume of FDI inflows and outflows, all Arab economies share a common concern in their efforts to grow and support private investment and build partnerships and encourage SMEs.

The Director-General of The Arab Investment & Export Credit Guarantee Corporation (Dhaman) Fahad Al-Ibrahim stated that that AIM is an important step in strengthening Arab cooperation in the field of investment and exploring the possibility of the establishment of a Union for Arab Investment Promotion Agencies, pointing out that recent developments in the Arab region have affected the ability of some Arab countries to attract foreign investments and conduct business and international financial transactions, which led to the decrease of total FDI inflows to the region to $90 billion during 2011 and 2012, a 57 percent decrease compared to $141 billion during 2009 and 2010.

He also noted that Dhaman has improved its services in order to cope with the recent political events, particularly its operations regarding investments guarantees in Arab countries for Arab and foreign investors and Arab expats who wish to invest in their home countries against political risks as well as export credit guarantees. The total value of the operations guarantees conducted by Dhaman during the years 2011 - 2012, reached US$ 3.2 billion, which marks an increase of $1.3 billion, 41% in comparison to the years 2009-2010.

The Director-General of the Arab Planning Institute (API) Dr Bader Malallah stated in his speech that global economic crisis and the changes in the Arab region during the past few years, made it necessary to review the policies, investment environment and the development plans to meet the growing challenges of sustainable development.
He also highlighted AIM’s importance in facilitating information exchange between hosts and exporting countries for investments, with the aim of strengthening Arab efforts for the development of investments with high added value and income, and also investments which generate employment opportunities and link between investment policies and development plans.
The two day summit jointly organized by Arab Investment & Export Credit Guarantee Corporation (Dhaman), Arab Planning Institute (API) and Kuwait Direct Investment Authority (KDIPA) is being attended by Arab Ministers, Heads of Planning & Investment as well as Investment and Business Community leaders from across the Arab world.

By Iddris Seidu
Arab Times Staff


By: Iddris Seidu

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