BUSINESS COUNCILS

Kuwait 2019 | ECONOMY | B2B

As Kuwait diversifies into a wide variety of other sectors, German and American firms stand better placed than most to reap the benefits of steering its economy in the right direction.

Hannelore Graf
HANNELORE GRAF
Chairman
German Business Council Kuwait (GBCK)
Frank Belonus
FRANK BELONUS
Board Member
American Business Council Kuwait (ABCK)

Can you elaborate upon your raison d'être?

HANNELORE GRAF The GBCK is a networking platform aimed at facilitating business relationships for our 180 members. It acts as a bridge between the German, Austrian, Swiss, and regional and local business communities. We have started to expand our activities from monthly business meetings with business related content to special visits to Kuwaiti business entities, and are partnering with event organizers of the most current event topics, like Euromoney, the Regional Cybersecurity Summit, and Horeca, just to name a few. This gives our sponsors greater exposure and entitles our members to special benefits. We also have our own restricted online members directory, which incorporates short bios and contact details of our members for their convenience. One of our upcoming events is 'The B6 Event," a networking event for the six business councils in Kuwait, including the British, American, Canadian, Australian, and French Business Council, accompanied by each country's respective ambassador. The Kuwaiti chair will be taken by HE Hind Al-Sabeeh, Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, and the topic is “Working in Kuwait." Aside from special events like this, as well as visits to KOC display center, the Burgan oil rig, Abdaliya Nature Reserve, Doha West Power Station, National Bank of Kuwait (museum and new tower), and the Abdullah Al Salem Cultural Center, we are organizing monthly social gatherings (Stammtisch) and business meetings at the residences of the German, Austrian, and Swiss ambassadors.

FRANK BELONUS ABCK was founded in 1985 and has been strongly involved in promoting American business and its products; we promote American business in Kuwait and Kuwaiti investment in the US. We also support the US Embassy Commerce Department's efforts in many areas, including imports and exports, breaking down trade barriers, and identifying current issues that need to be worked on government-to-government. We often run events within the business community where we regularly feature high-level dignitaries from the Kuwaiti and US governments, business leaders, and subject matter experts who interact with our members and provide insights into the business opportunities available in each sector. As a rule, the fact that certain sectors exhibit such fruitful growth and have potential for even more growth attracts American businesses here. These include the automobile, aerospace, defense and security, energy, oil, and gas sectors. Recently, the medical services, equipment, and management sectors have also been booming, and they are areas where we expect to see rapid growth over the coming year. Kuwait is building around eight new hospitals, and there is a huge amount of business for equipment, staffing, and management for these hospitals. The energy sector is also booming here. Investors can see Kuwait's 2035 business model and plans to build several cities, to include South Al Mutlaa, which is already under construction, and the amazing Silk City of the future. All these attract business from all over the world because investors realize this is the place to invest in, not just for the short term, but long term.

Is Kuwait becoming more attractive for German and American businesses?

HG It is indeed. Kuwait is currently in the process of facilitating the necessary procedures that foreign entities must go through in order to do business here. To that end, the government is simplifying these processes to attract higher rates of FDI. Germany has good relations with Kuwait in important sectors such as the automotive, healthcare, and technology industries. German products in general are welcomed and renowned in Kuwait (and globally) because of their reputation for quality, efficiency, and affordability, which translates into confidence and enthusiasm needed to establish reciprocal trade.

FB Undoubtedly more American businesses are coming, a trend we see most notably in the retail industry, as we are fortunate to have great Kuwaiti companies serving as agents for a multitude of American enterprises. Kuwait is unique in that statistically it must be one of the most traveled countries in the world per capita. Kuwait also has an outstanding education program, and many locals are educated outside of Kuwait, including in the US. They bring that international mentality—and their consumer preferences—home, which is evidenced in the continual growth of supermalls here. Places such as The Avenues are comparable to any of the world's major malls. Likewise, many of the Kuwaiti companies that bring American products to Kuwait do the same throughout the GCC and in some cases Europe.