-- His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah is to travel tomorrow, Tuesday, to Bangladesh, the first leg on an Asian tour that will also take him to Japan, South Korea and Vietnam.
Kuwait and these four Asian nations maintain close ties in all fields thanks to the frequent visit exchanges on all levels. In its quest for sustainable economic development, the State of Kuwait seeks to benefit from the successful experiences of highly developed economies in Southeast Asia.
The agenda of His Highness the Prime Minister's official visit to Bangladesh includes political, economic, investment and educational issues.
The bilateral relations, based on reciprocity and mutual support, have grown steadily since the two countries established diplomatic ties in early 1970s. Bangladesh stood by Kuwait during the latter's liberation war from the Iraqi invasion in 1991 and contributed a military unit to the international campaign Operation Desert Shield.
In May, 1991, the then prime minister of Bangladesh Khaleda Zia paid an official visit to Kuwait to show solidarity with the country following its liberation.
Bangladesh also contributed peace-keeping forces to the UN Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission (UNIKOM) deployed along the borderlines between the two countries after the war.
The defense cooperation between Kuwait and Bangladesh also made great strides after the two countries signed several deals in this field. A considerable number of Bangladeshi troops work at the Kuwaiti army in several logistic and other domains.
Similarly, the economic and commercial cooperation gained momentum based on the complementary resources of both economies and the shared desire to tap into the potentials of investment and trade relations.
In 1995 the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) of Bangladesh held its first trade fair in Kuwait which gathered 15 Bangladeshi companies. In 2011 the two countries signed a trade agreement which replaced the agreement of 1979.
The bilateral trade volume grew from just USD 25 million before the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait to nearly USD 520 million in 2010, tilting generally in favor of Kuwait. While Bangladesh's exports of tea, vegetables, fruits, fish, clothes and leather were estimated at USD 5.8 million in 2010, its oil imports from Kuwait hit USD 513.6 million.
Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) plays a growing role in financing the development projects in Bangladesh and other friendly countries; it has signed recently an agreement to offer a USD 15 million loan for the Bangladeshi government to fund the Sikalbaha Gas Power Plant in the southeast coastal region of Chittagong which has a design capacity of 225 megawatts.
In 2012 KFAED and Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, signed a loan agreement worth USD 14 million for financing the Lebukhali Bridge. Regarding the cultural ties, the ministries of Awqaf and Islamic of both countries signed MoU to exchange experience.
In 2015 Kuwait House of National Works inked a deal with the Bangladeshi government to organize joint exhibitions in both countries.