Confidence in investment in Kuwait gets fillip from KIF

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JEDDAH — The second edition of the Kuwait Investment Forum (KIF 2018), held under the patronage and presence of the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah in March this year, has contributed to a spurt in global investor confidence in the nation’s economy stemming from a serious commitment to advancing Kuwait's development agenda and offering a plethora of investment opportunities.

At the Forum, an exclusive session was held where Kuwaiti ministers interacted dynamically to showcase the progress achieved under the seven pillars of the national vision 2035 - "New Kuwait" - comprising: Effective Government, Diverse & Sustainable Economy, Quality Infrastructure, Sustainable Living Communities, Quality Healthcare, Innovative Human Capital, and Prominent International Position.

This entailed several milestones achieved by the country that include:

• More effective utilzation of electronic government services that will add to government efficiency and transparency.

• Facilitating the procedures of establishing and issuing commercial licenses for investment projects in Kuwait and ease of starting new business through the national one-stop-shop under the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, and Kuwait Direct Investment Promotion Authority and the National Fund for SME Development. The available data showed an increase in the number of limited liability companies established from 5,621 in 2016 to 9,682 in 2017.

• Entering the era of alternative, renewable and ecofriendly energy through Al-Shaqaya Renewable Energy Complex, which has achieved over 80% of its completion and is due for completion in 2022. This will lead to an increase in power generating capacity to secure 15% of the country's energy needs by 2030 from renewable sources

• Diversifying and expanding the county’s added-value exports capacity by adding specialized products to enhance the petrochemical sector in Kuwait through the Olefins-Aromatics complex at Al-Zour Refinery with the goal to produce 945,000 tonnes per year of polypropylene, 1.4 million tonnes of aromatic paraxylene and 421,000 tons of benzene. In addition is the environmental fuel project that aims to modernize Al Ahmadi and Mina Abdullah refineries to meet both local and international demand for clean fuels that comply with the international environmental standards, which is now 85% completed and marks an investment of KD 4.68 billion.

• Progressing on the Mubarak Al Kabeer Port, which will have 24 berths and capacity of 8.1 million TEUs that is now over 51.5 per cent completed, and the Sheikh Jaber Causeway, which will serve as link between Kuwait City and Sabiya, reducing traffic jam, and is already 83.6 per cent completed as well as the Kuwait International Airport expansion, on-schedule to welcome 25 million annual visitors

• Activate vital sectors and unlock their true potential, especially tourism, logistics, supply chains and commercial facilities.

Further developments that contributed to enhance the confidence of international investors include the announcement by FTSE Russell, which cited an improvement in Kuwait’s stock market and re-classified Kuwait to the emerging market status. This also reflected the increased government’s focus on guaranteeing investors their rights and providing the private sector a stronger role in operations and project implementation. It coincided with Kuwait maintaining sovereign rating investment grade with stable outlook by the world’s leading international rating agencies such as Moody's (Aa2) and Fitch and Standard & Poor's (AA).

Kuwait has also witness improvement in its position in many key international indicators, notably the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business index, ranking 102 from 190 countries in 2017 to 96 from 190 countries in 2018. In addition, Kuwait has improved in its ranking on the Global Competitiveness Index by World Economic Forum on several aspects covering: efficiency of government spending (from 90 out of 138 countries in the 2016-2017 index to 59 out of 137 countries in the 2017-2018 index); in the regulation of securities exchanges (from 75 to 62); and in the burden of government regulation (from 108 to 90).

Investment in the technology sector in Kuwait is reported to have nearly doubled over a five-year period from of US$939 million in 2012 to US$1.87 billion in 2017, according to CyFy Africa 2018, a technology focused conference held early May.

To date, Kuwait has 32 foreign companies in the country, attracting around KD 806 million, and creating 1,000 jobs for Nationals in 11 different business sectors. Among these leading global businesses include IBM, GE, McKinsey & Company, Huawei, Limak and others. This reiterates the boost in global investor confidence supported by the vast opportunities available in Kuwait.

During KIF 2018 Timothy Keating, Executive Vice President of Government Operations for The Boeing Company, announced that the company intends to open a permanent office in Kuwait this year that aims to train national cadres and implement other activities of the company.

The forum’s outcomes supported several other positive signs that have contributed to enhancing the confidence of international investors, including the satisfactory overall economic performance of Kuwait. As per the IMF report of January 2018, Kuwait’s non-oil growth for the medium term is set to increase 3 to 4 per cent, accompanied by curtailing inflation to around 2.5%. The report commended the government's efforts to reduce spending, diversify income sources and improve the business environment, as well as acknowledging the efforts to shift from a public-led growth model to a private sector-led model, while consolidating the fiscal and current account balances. — SG


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