Turkey is looking forward towards beefing up economic, trade, and investment cooperation with Kuwait, said Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek. In a media interview, provided against the backdrop of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah’s state visit to Turkey, Mr. Simsek underlined the need for a free trade agreement to better benefit from the great potential of both countries.
Noting that the Turkish-Kuwaiti relations have seen remarkable development over the last decade, Mr. Simsek pointed to the reciprocal visits of senior officials from both countries, at the levels of leaders or ministers, senior officials and business people. This is the second visit of His Highness the Amir to Turkey in less than a year. In April 2016, His Highness attended the 13th Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Summit in Istanbul.
Bilateral relations between the two countries have grown from the level of friendship to one of partnership based on mutual respect and common interests. The two countries are also bound by deep-rooted Islamic, historical and cultural ties that contribute significantly to boosting bilateral relations.
The distinguished relations between Turkey and Kuwait have been translated into 41 agreements, numerous protocols and memoranda of understanding for cooperation in a wide array of domains, he pointed out.
Stressing that relations between Turkey and Kuwait were not confined to the economic aspect alone but are multi-faceted, Mr. Simsek pointed to the culture relations between the two nations and said they were deeply rooted and currently flourishing.
On trade relations, he estimated that the volume of trade exchange between the two country have risen three times from US$165.6 million in 2002 to nearly $700 million in 2016.
The deputy primer identified mineral products, machinery, equipment, food, beverages, clothing, textiles, and petroleum products as the main Turkish exports to Kuwait and chemical products and furniture as most important Kuwaiti exports to Turkey.
Furthermore, the number of Kuwaiti tourists visiting Turkey has been steadily growing over the recent years from 8,000 in 2002 to 180,000 in 2016, despite the terror incidents that took place in Turkey in 2016, he clarified. He said that this remarkable development portends a brighter and more fruitful future for cooperation in this sector.
In the same vein, Mr. Simsek said that the number of Kuwaitis who possess houses, apartments and several properties have been climbing in recent years. Up to 1,744 Kuwaitis bought properties in Turkey last year, making them the third biggest among foreign nationals to own property in Turkey, after Iraqis and the Saudis, he disclosed.
He pointed out that there are 271 Kuwaiti companies and firms operating in Turkey since 2004 mainly in the financial, real estate, commercial and industrial sectors with total investments estimated at over $2 billion. Meanwhile, Turkish companies are currently executing 30 projects in Kuwait, including the $6.3 billion-worth project of developing Kuwait international airport.
On the banking and financial side, the Kuveyt-Turk Bank, an affiliate of Kuwait Finance House, has 387 branches in Turkey and, Kuwait’s Burgan Bank owns shares in a Turkish banks
Simsek described Kuwait as one of the most important economic partners of Turkey in the Gulf region. Since 2005, Kuwait has set a list of investment objectives of both countries, he said, adding that Turkey is greatly interested in investment opportunities and privatization plans in Kuwait. He viewed the joint investments as the engine of cooperation relations between Turkey and Kuwait.
He concluded that the current level of cooperation between the two countries is admirable and hoped that relations would evolve to reach even greater heights in the future.