In the presence of Kuwait's Deputy Prime Minister, Finance Minister and Acting Oil Minister Anas Al-Saleh, visiting Kuwaiti and Japanese businessmen on Thursday discussed ways of expanding economic relations and investment opportunities.
The one-day meeting in Tokyo, headed by Deputy President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Abdulwahab Al-Wazzan, was hosted by the Japanese Cooperation Center for the Middle East (JCCME) as part of His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah's visit to Japan.
In his opening remarks, Director General for Trade Policy of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry Koichi Akaishi, said Japan-Kuwait ties have deepened beyond oil cooperation, such as Japanese firms' participation in infrastructure projects in Kuwait. "We also appreciate Kuwait for taking an appropriate response to the abolishment of the Offset Program last August, which had been long acting as an obstacle to Japanese companies," said Akaishi. "I hope, in such as electricity, water, railway, refinery and other projects, bilateral business relationship will further through enhanced investment in the fields where Japanese companies' technology and expertise can be utilized," the official said, expressing Japan's keenness on contributing to Kuwait's development.
For his part, Al-Wazzan said due to the current decrease in oil prices, the Kuwaiti government is seriously planning to diversify its revenues through getting the private sector more involved in the main economic activities, by executing an ambitious development plan targeting major projects in various sectors, including oil industry, power, health, education, water and waste water management, solid waste management, transportation and real estate developments. "The private sector is primed to play a lead role in implementing Kuwait's ambitious development plan involving mega projects mostly through Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) and Public Private Partnership (PPP)," said Al-Wazzan. "Such mega projects need strategic foreign partners with advanced technology and technical know-how. We believe that Japan partners can participate effectively in implementing these projects."
He also stressed that the Kuwaiti private sector could be a competent partner to Japanese firms in joint-ventures in both countries, saying, "Kuwait is a promising regional center for the Japanese companies and products." He also spoke highly of tremendous efforts and achievements of the Kuwaiti-Japanese Businessmen Committee, which lead to distinguished results, such as preparing the Environmental Master Plan in 2004 and Kid's ISO 14000 Environmental Plan, and the contribution of the abolishment of "offset" program.
The economic meeting highlighted the importance of investing in Kuwait, with Kuwait Direct Investment Promotion Authority (KDIPA) Director General Sheikh Dr. Meshaal Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah briefing participants on the country's investment status and the role of the authority in boosting foreign and local investment in Kuwait.
According to Sheikh Dr. Meshaal, Kuwait's five-year development plan (2015-2020) includes 30 strategic and mega projects covering such areas as oil and gas, electricity and water, education, transport and communication, urban development and housing, tourism, media, health and environment.
Meanwhile, the Japanese side briefed the Kuwaiti participants on the financial and banking development in Japan. Established in 1973 under the sponsorship of the Japanese government, the JCCME has long played a bridging role between Japan and the countries in the Middle East and the North Africa region on the private-sector level by providing cooperation in the fields of trade, investment, economy and technology.