KUWAIT CITY, April 22: Six Business Councils operating in Kuwait including the American Business Council Kuwait (ABCK), the German Business Council Kuwait (GBCK), British Business Forum (BBF), French Business Council Kuwait (FBCK), the Australian Business Group (AusBG) and the Canadian Business Council (CBC) combined for the first time to host a panel discussion with their respective diplomats on the benefits and challenges of doing business in Kuwait.
The event was held in the Drama Hall of the Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Centre. Kuwait was represented by HE Sheikh Dr Meshaal Jaber Al Ahmad Al Sabah, Director General for Kuwait Direct Investment Promotion Authority (KDIPA), who led the discussion on changes that the Kuwait government has implemented to make it easier for foreign companies to do business in Kuwait. The remaining panelists were the US Ambassador Lawrence Silverman, Austrian Ambassador HE Sigurd Pacher, Swiss Ambassador HE Aldo DeLuca, Ruediger Zettel, Deputy Head of Mission, German Embassy, Philippe Galli, Head of Economic Department for the French Embassy, Australian Ambassador HE Warren Hauck, Canadian Ambassador HE Martine Moreau and James McGuire, First Secretary Defence and Security at the British Embassy Kuwait.
More than 400 people from over 75 foreign companies representing a range of market segments attended the event. For more than an hour, the panelists answered questions submitted from the audience in advance. HE Sheikh Dr Meshaael Jaber Al Ahmad Al Sabah said, “The summit provided a great platform to discuss the positive steps the State of Kuwait is taking to improve the business environment in order to make the country even more favorable for attracting added valued direct investments.
Establishing KDIPA is an example that indicates that the country is taking the necessary steps to diversify the economy and to promote the leading role of the private sector in the national economy. KDIPA is mandated with the tasks of attracting value added direct investment into Kuwait; promoting Kuwait as a lucrative investment destination; receiving applications for investment licensing and granting incentives; servicing investors; in addition to streamlining business environment and enhancing Kuwait’s competitiveness.” US Ambassador Lawrence Silverman said, “US companies looking to invest and do business in Kuwait, like businesses anywhere, want to hear the experiences of US firms already here.
It is important that US companies have positive experiences, so that others may follow. A predictable, stable business environment and continued support from the Kuwait Direct Investment Promotion Authority and others will go a long way to encouraging US investment here.” To continue along the same theme, Swiss Ambassador, Aldo De Luca said, “Key to success are innovation, investing in human capital, ensuring transparency and sustainability, and creating an enabling environment, an environment that is liberal and based on rules.” Canadian Ambassador, Martine Moreau said, “Companies of course seek good business opportunities, but opportunities alone are not sufficient. Stability and transparency are key to ensuring business predictability.
Business predictability and a sustained commitment by the government to continue making change towards an enabling business environment will lead to increased business activity and investment in Kuwait.” Head of the Economic Department at the French Embassy, Philippe Galli said, “The trend of privatization and diversification supported by Kuwaiti authorities is bringing a lot of mutual opportunities for the ease of doing business in Kuwait for foreign and local investors.” Commenting on bridging the gap between education and business, Austrian Ambassador, Sigurd Pacher said, “The dual vocational training system in Austria provides the business community with highly-skilled and well-trained employees while ensuring flexibility and low youth unemployment.”
Diplomats felt that the business forum was a success with the exchange of information. Australian Ambassador, Warren Hauck said, “BF6 was a great opportunity for our respective businesses, to come together, tap into each other’s expertise, and discuss market opportunities. There are strong opportunities in Kuwait for Australian companies and I am excited to continue to explore business here”. Deputy Head of Mission at the German Embassy, Ruediger Zettel said, “The BF6 summit yesterday showed again the many opportunities Kuwait is offering to foreign investors. Germany deeply appreciates our long-standing relationship with Kuwait in business, trade and investment. KDIPA under the leadership of Sheikh Dr Meshaal Jaber Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah plays a key role in realizing FDI in the context of the KuwaitVision 2035.”
The event was possible due to the support of Honeywell, DHL, KPMG, Holman Fenwick Willian, NBK, Crowne Plaza, Zayani and Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Centre as well as the business councils working closely together to host this event. – For more information on the event, please contact any of the respective Business Council.