Kuwait, one of the world's smallest countries by land area, but one of the richest by GDP per capita has a wealth of opportunities for UK companies to explore. Historically a major trading centre with the ports of India, East Africa and the Red Sea, Kuwait developed rapidly after the discovery of oil in 1937. A British Protectorate from 1899 until it gained independence in 1961, Kuwait enjoys a special and enduring relationship with the UK. With plans to develop the country under the National Development Plan and the oil wealth to implement major infrastructure projects, perhaps it's time you took a closer look at Kuwait?
Oil and Gas makes a comeback
Underpinning Kuwait's prosperity, Oil & Gas accounts for 65% of GDP and 95% of exports. With plans to raise production to 4 million barrels per day by 2020, Kuwait is pushing ahead with the world's largest oil refinery (worth around $14.5bn) at Al Zour, where PMC and EPC contracts have been awarded. The Clean Fuels Project, (CFP) developing upgrades to the Mina Abdullah and Mina Ahmadi refineries has awarded $12bn worth of EPC contracts to 3 international consortia including the UK's Petrofac, showing that long awaited progress is being made. Finally Kuwait has brought back "Big Oil" to boost crude production, including at the Burgan field (the world's second largest) in enhanced technical service contracts awarded to companies including BP and Shell.
Infrastructure underpins development
The 2010 National Development Plan (NDP) set out a raft of infrastructure projects aimed at providing the building blocks for Kuwait to attempt become a financial and trade hub for the region by 2035 and encouraging economic diversification. Composed of five, five year plans aimed at generating improved GDP growth and catalysing private sector investment, the first $108.bn 5 year plan includes a $3.3bn airport terminal, designed by the UK's Foster + Partners and a $7bn Metro aimed at relieving traffic congestion. The Kuwait Authority for Partnership Projects (KAPP) is overseeing Kuwait's PPP programme where the Al Zour North IWPP award for a $1.8bn combined power and water plant shows the beginnings of a positive trend. Under the Public Authority for Housing Welfare, Kuwait plans to develop 3 new "Cities" to meet its rising housing demand of over 100,000 Kuwaiti citizen on the housing waiting list.
A private sector future beckons
After posting a $45bn budget surplus in March 2014 (her 15th in a row), Kuwait continues to tread a delicate path between providing generous public services for its 1.5m Kuwaiti citizens, while encouraging the development of the private sector. Under the Kuwait Direct Investment Promotion Authority (KDIPA) FDI is being encouraged via breaking down bureaucracy and promoting generous incentives. The new $7bn SME Fund to develop new Kuwaiti companies providing the spine of a private sector economy are steps in the right direction. Large Kuwaiti based multi nationals like the 40,000 strong MH Alshaya Co. prove that Kuwait can be a home for competitive global business. The work of the Kuwait Government to implement a number of high profile privatisations, including national flag carrier Kuwait Airways, and implement more business friendly policies, all in a business culture that is predisposed to working with and travelling to the UK, mean Kuwait could be your next export market.