KUWAIT CITY, Sept 4, (KUNA): His Highness the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al- Sabah started Friday an offi- cial visit to the United States. His Highness the Amir is expected to hold talks with US President Donald Trump in Washington DC on Thursday, Sept 7. During his visit, His Highness the Amir is accompanied by Deputy Commander of the National Guard Sheikh Meshaal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and a high-ranking official delegation. His Highness the Amir was received at the airport by Kuwait Prime Minister Diwan Advisor Sheikha Dr Rasha Al-Humoud Al-Sabah, Kuwait’s Ambassador to the US Sheikh Salem Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Kuwait’s Permanent Delegate to the United Nations Ambassador Mansour Ayyad Al-Otaibi, Kuwait’s Consul-General in Los Angeles Faisal Al-Hawali and several other Kuwaiti diplomats.
The strategic dialogue provided a firm ground for the partnership between Kuwait and the United States while regional developments and the growing role of Kuwait in tackling the political, economic and humanitarian problems opened new horizons for this partnership. The first round of the strategic dialogue, held in Washington last October, charted a roadmap for the mutually beneficial relationship in all fields over the coming 25 years. Economic cooperation, particularly in the energy sector, is the engine of relations in all areas, with three major US companies tapping into the promising opportunities opened after the passing of the direct investment law in Kuwait.
On the occasion of the visit of His Highness the Amir’s to the United States, the US Embassy in Kuwait provided KUNA with the following statement on the progress of cooperation in various areas. The US companies are well represented in several sectors in Kuwait including the oil/gas, defense and automotive sectors.
American firms support Kuwaiti power stations and refineries, design local business offices, and work with Kuwait on the infrastructure needs here in the country, among other things. The US medical equipment is abundant throughout Kuwait’s hospitals and clinics. Thanks to the law allowing for foreign firms that meet certain requirements to be treated as Kuwaiti entities, three US firms have taken advantage of this benefit, with others considering it. Kuwait’s exports to the United States are primarily related to petroleum products. On the size of joint investment, the statement said Kuwait’s Sovereign Wealth Fund investments in the United States are roughly estimated at over $300 billion, and are diversified among stocks, bonds (primarily US treasuries), real estate and technology. MEGlobal, a wholly-owned subsidiary of EQUATE Petrochemical Company, is currently building a new, worldscale monoethylene glycol (MEG) manufacturing facility in the Houston, Texas area.
Kuwait has investments in the Hudson Yards Project, the largest privately funded real estate development project in North America. There are also investments in tech start-up and enterprise investment, nurturing US technology and small, but rapidly growing, companies. While US investments in Kuwait are difficult to quantify, there are dozens of American franchises present in Kuwait, and many US firms in various sectors doing work here. Regarding the trade volume (both ways) in 2016, it said there was $6 billion in bilateral trade of goods, with approximately $3 billion going in each direction. Fully 95 percent of Kuwait’s exports to the United States are petroleum-based products and over 40 percent of US exports were in the transportation sector.
Kuwait also spent an estimated $2 billion on tourism, education, and medical care in the United States last year. These expenditures are considered service exports. On the US support to the small and medium-sized enterprises/businesses, the Embassy statement said: “We promote trade and investment by working with US companies to advise them on market opportunities and also introduce them to potential partners in Kuwait.” “We also lead buying delegations from Kuwait to the most important trade shows in the United States. “We provide guidance to Kuwaitis looking to invest in the United States and facilitate introductions to economic development organizations and service providers that can help support their investment efforts,” it noted. As for the Kuwaiti students in the US the statement said 15,566 Kuwaiti students are in active status per latest figures for 2016.
Approximately 87,000 Kuwaiti citizens entered the US in 2016. 31,082 non-immigrant visas were issued worldwide for citizens of Kuwait in 2016. On Kuwait’s efforts in the anti-money laundering and combat against terrorism financing (AML/CTF), the statement noted that Kuwait has made noteworthy progress since the National Assembly passed the AML/CTF Law No. 106 in 2013. That progress was acknowledged internationally when Kuwait was admitted to the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units in July. More can be done, and the Kuwaiti government has said it can do more. The United States will continue to cooperate closely with its Kuwaiti allies to throttle flows of funding to terrorist groups. Regarding the outlook of the economic relations after His Highness the Amir’s visit to Washington, it said the visit provides an opportunity to highlight the strong economic ties that exist between the two countries.
The US Chamber of Commerce will host a commercial forum attended by Kuwaiti investors, US companies, and Kuwaiti and US government officials September 6. This event will provide further opportunities to strengthen existing relationships and develop new ones in the areas of trade and investment.
KDIPA and the US Department of Commerce’s SelectUSA program will sign a memorandum of understanding strengthening cooperation in order to promote foreign direct investment between the two countries. The USG welcomes more visits by Kuwaiti investors to the United States. US business leaders remain interested in the Kuwaiti market and business opportunities in the region. The oil and gas fields perennially offer bright prospects for collaboration.
The Kuwaiti government is determined to transform the country into a leader in medical care and outpatient services. “US companies and technology can help the government achieve this goal. We encourage Kuwait to bring more leading US-developed technologies in healthcare and other sectors to Kuwait. Additionally, US technology companies can provide a range of solutions across nearly every sector, both public and private,” it went on. Dealing with Kuwait’s business environment, the statement said: “Ease of doing business is a priority for any country, especially those seeking to diversify their economy, as Kuwait seeks to do. Kuwait should continue its efforts to simplify its business registration procedures to ease access for foreign businesses.” KDIPA’s “one-stop window” concept is exactly the kind of facilitation service that US companies need to help them begin new operations in Kuwait. Adequate protection for intellectual property rights is also important to those seeking to do business in Kuwait. The two US companies (IBM and GE) that entered the Kuwaiti local market through the Kuwait Direct Investment Authority, said they are pleased with their KDIPA experience, according to the statement. Based on their establishment of legal personalities under the new KDIPA format, both companies are eager to win new business that will allow them to train young Kuwaitis in new skills and acquaint them with new technologies. Regarding the boom of shale oil in the US, it said shale oil tends to be very light sweet crude. It generally does not compete to supply refineries that are tuned to receive Kuwait’s heavier blend.
The visit of His Highness the Amir to the United States comes at a time when the two countries enjoy excellent relations, strong and close partnership in various fields. President Trump invited His Highness the Amir to visit Washington during a telephone call last February following his victory in the US elections, stressing depth of bilateral ties and keenness to strengthen the frameworks of cooperation in various fields, especially economic, security and military domains and upgrade them to wider horizons to serve both countries’ interest in the strategic partnership that brings together the two friendly countries. His Highness the Amir will also discuss with President Trump efforts to resolve the Gulf crisis and ways of cooperating closely on the war on terrorism, regional security and the Middle East peace process, as well as other bilateral files.