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Chairman of the Commonwealth Business Council, Lord Marland of Odstock (seated in center-far right) interacting with the media at the British Embassy in Kuwait. On his right is the British Ambassador to Kuwait Frank Baker.
New business initiative to promote UK, Kuwait cos Kuwait Britain Business Center to have its own CEO: Marland

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 9: Kuwait which maintains a robust relationship with the UK has been in the forefront of business activity for almost the past 60 years when the Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) among the Gulf countries became the first sovereign wealth fund to invest in the UK, said Lord Marland of Odstock. He added, “Although of late other countries such as Qatar has been investing a lot of money in London and so also the UAE and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait has always been there at the top in terms of longevity, consistency and commitment to our friendship.” To cement this relationship and make it easier for British and Kuwaiti companies to do business together, Lord Marland of Odstock, Chairman of the Commonwealth Business Council and the joint Chairman Mohammed Alshaya of the Kuwait Britain Business Council have announced an exciting new venture backed by the UK Government.

Addressing the press at the British Embassy, Lord Marland said the new Kuwait Britain Business Centre is part of a UK initiative to set up a network of similar organizations providing top quality support to UK companies looking to do business overseas. He went to say, this initiative will be delivered in partnership with the British Chambers of Commerce in the UK and provide a global accreditation standard that each of the new organizations around the world can aspire to. In Kuwait, the new Kuwait Britain Business Center will represent both UK companies looking to export their goods and services to Kuwait and those Kuwaiti businesses looking for support and advice on doing business in the UK. Established by joint chairmen Lord Marland and Mohammed Alshaya during His Highness the Amir’s State visit to the UK in November 2012, the Kuwait Britain Business Council will act in an advisory capacity to the Kuwait Britain Business Centre.

He went on to say, the new Kuwait Britain Business Centre will be incorporated as a Kuwaiti entity shortly which will have its own CEO to lead and develop the new organization. The responsibility of the newly-appointed CEO will determine the services offered to the UK and Kuwaiti companies which are likely to include among other things what he called the touch-down/incubator space and soft landing services, market awareness training, distributor and agent databases, delegation and familiarization visits support and employment, visa and recruitment advice. The Kuwait Britain Business Centre will work closely with the British Embassy in Kuwait and UK Trade & Investment in addition to forming relationships with other organizations and businesses already established in Kuwait, and the Kuwaiti public and private sector organizations.

Commenting on the announcement Lord Marland said: “I know I speak for all of the Kuwait Britain Business Council when I welcome the creation of a new organization dedicated to making business between our two countries easier and even more productive. We are all excited about this announcement and look forward to watching the new Kuwait British Business Centre take shape over the next few months.” The British Ambassador to Kuwait, His Excellency Frank Baker, who was also present at the launch, leant his strong support to the initiative saying, “The UK and Kuwait have a long and illustrious trading history, dating back over 225 years.

 “In 2010 the Prime Minister David Cameron and then Kuwait Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Sabah committed to doubling trade by the end of 2015. With this milestone achieved two years ahead of schedule, the new Kuwait British Business Centre will take our links still further.
 “We want to see UK companies successful in Kuwait, and their Kuwaiti counterparts successful in the UK. I firmly believe the KBBC will help make this happen.” The main purpose of establishing the KBBC which will consist of its own CEO, co-chairman and eight British companies (CEO or chairman of each company) on the executive council, Lord Marland said, they will meet with Kuwaiti companies twice a year to help support the initiatives of new economy, skills transfer which is the key element, expertise, etc. He added this is not about shaking hands or meeting over dinner or talking, but it is about concrete actions.

He said he has had a meeting with senior Kuwaiti officials including the Finance Minister and joint Chairman Mohammed Alshaya of the Kuwait Britain Business Council and the focus was on how to work together on business opportunities. In focus were opportunities in Kurdistan, Iraq and even Pakistan where Kuwait is already looking to get involved and the involvement of the KIA in Commonwealth countries in Nigeria, emerging energy markets in Kenya and Mozambique, or building a new port in Sri Lanka, a casino in the Bahamas developing mining in African countries, a museum project in Canada or Australia and vast investment opportunities in India.  He also said added measures have been taken to reduce corporate tax to make it easier for companies to set up businesses in the UK — a stable place for investments.

Kuwait forms part of wave 2 of the initiative UK Trade & Investment are leading to enhance overseas business networks providing support for UK exporters. Lord Marland is also the Chairman of the Commonwealth Business Council, and he retired as the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy and Chairman of the Business Ambassador Network on Jan 1, 2014. Outside of politics, Lord Marland was one of the founding directors of Jardine Lloyd Thomson plc, a multinational insurance business and also founded the Jubilee insurance company at Lloyd’s of London. He led the acquisitions of Hunter Wellington Boots, Insurance Capital Partners, Janspeed Performance Ltd and Wisden Cricketer Magazine. He is Chairman of Tickets for Troops and the Churchill Foundation, a Trustee of Peggy Guggenheim (UK), and Atlantic Partnerships.

By Paul Francis X. Fernandes
Arab Times Staff

By: Paul Francis X. Fernandes

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