Spanish–Kuwaiti diplomatic relations excellent and historical, but economic ties have not yet reached their full potential: Ambassador Aguilar
Describing his country’s diplomatic relations with the State of Kuwait as exceptionally good and historical, the Spanish Ambassador to Kuwait, H.E. Miguel Aguilar, expressed regret that these relations have not yet attained their full potential in the economic field.
The Spanish ambassador made these remarks last week while launching the Spanish Business Council in Kuwait, in the presence of a large number of businessmen and representatives of foreign companies.
Addressing the gathering, Ambassador Aguilar said: “We have to be serious, and we seek to develop these relations in all fields, especially the economic, to raise the level of the political and diplomatic relations between our two countries; we can do better, and we are striving to do so.”
He spoke of the two important events that unfolded last week which reflect positively on the economic relations, the first of which was the announcement of direct flights to Madrid from Kuwait by the country’s national carrier, Kuwait Airways after a hiatus of almost 40 years. The second positive outcome was the entry of Spain in the healthcare sector of Kuwait. This follows after a Spanish company signed a cooperation agreement with the Ministry of Health and the Dhaman Hospitals Company to provide health services in the area of health insurance.
For his part, Yahya Al-Shaibani, head of the Spanish Business Council in Kuwait, said that the Spanish contribution is part of projects in the Kuwait Vision 2035, and that Spanish companies have a vision to make great contributions in this area, and “our role as a business council is to show that Spain has an important role to play in Kuwait Vision 2035.”
Elaborating on the aims of the Spanish Business Council in Kuwait, Al-Shaibani explained that the main objective of the Council is to “provide a platform for Spanish companies to exchange experiences and information with Kuwaiti companies and businessmen wishing to invest in Spain, to help them, guide them and share our experiences with them.” He added that to promote this objective the council has set up five members who will each represent one of the five different Spanish sectors, and help with boosting relations between these sectors and their counterparts in Kuwait.
“This is in addition to helping increase trade exchanges between the two countries, and our role will always be supportive of the role of the embassy and the commercial office in the embassy.”
For his part, the commercial attaché at the Spanish embassy, Miguel Paesteros Lopez, said the Spanish-Kuwaiti trade relations have been characterized in the past five years by a favorable trade balance for Spain, and Spanish exports have diversified, compared to imports concentrated in oil, plastics, chemical products and clothing.
He added that economic and trade relations intensified in recent years, due to several factors, including the greater presence of the Spanish commercial declaration, as well as the continuous increase in Spanish exports.
He stressed that bilateral investment figures are still very modest given the current capabilities and potentialities of investments in Spain. He attributed the decline in Kuwaiti investment share to the sale of 40 percent of the Spanish electricity company, Eléctrica del Viesgo, to the Macquarie Fund in 2020 by Wren House Infrastructure Management, owned by the Kuwait Investment Authority.
The commercial attaché also provided figures that sketched the latest status of Spanish exports and Kuwaiti imports. The data showed that total Spanish exports to Kuwait of €149 million in 2009 jumped to €367 million in 2019,and €397 million in 2021, which marked a 26 percent hike in exports to Kuwait relative to 2020.
Meanwhile, imports from Kuwait to Spain in 2021 were anemic and dropped by 2 percent compared to 2020 to reach a total €54 million. Exports stabilized at €184 million in the first half of 2022, which marked a 24 percent jump in Kuwaiti imports, of €44 million, relative to the same period in 2021.
In the mutual investments sector, Spanish companies were awarded projects in Kuwait with a total value of €430 million, and in recent years there has been an increased influx of Kuwaiti investors into Spain.
On the other hand, Spanish direct investments in Kuwait amounted to €64 million at the end of 2020. Also, the balance of Spanish investment in Kuwait amounted to €64 million, as of 31 December, 2020, while the Kuwaiti investment stock in Spain on the last day of 2020 amounted to €436 million (ranking 44th), while it amounted to €897 million on 31 December, 2021.
In the energy and telecommunications sectors, the contribution of several Spanish companies was notable, including in the construction of Al-Zour Refinery; in the solar energy project in Shaqaya; and in the Air Navigation Management System for Civil Aviation and Communications System in Kuwait, as well as in preparing the new control Tower for Kuwait Airport.