LOCAL LEGEND

Kuwait 2019 | INDUSTRY & FOOD | INTERVIEW

As one of the most stable countries in the region, Kuwait is creating an enabling environment for investors, SMEs, and start-ups to further cement its position as a regional hub.

Khaled Naser Al-Roudan
BIOGRAPHY
Khaled Naser Al-Roudan is a visionary, passionate, and entrepreneurial minister, driven by his strong belief in the capacity of Kuwait and its young people to transform the country’s economy into a more liberal, inclusive, and socially-just one. His professional journey within the private sector started in the marketing and advertising industry after he established Senyar. Prior to his current post, he was Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports and a member of several committees. He is also a founding member of Kuwait Economic Association and ex-board member of the Youth Arabian Leadership Organization and the Kuwait Achievement Organization.

What specific initiatives are being implemented by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to achieve Kuwait's 2035 National Development Plan?

Over the last two years, we undertook several initiatives to achieve Kuwait's 2035 National Development Plan, starting with a strategy aiming at a more inclusive, innovative, and sustainable economy. We have invested in creating an enabling environment for investors, start-ups, and businesses, improving our competitiveness, and diversifying our economy. We are also adopting a proactive agenda to promote FDI and international trade with strategic partners in the region and around the world, with a focus on increasing non-oil exports and extending our trade relationships with countries in the Gulf, Asia, Africa, and Europe to develop partnerships with local and international stakeholders to implement megaprojects. Over the past two years, we succeeded in enhancing investors' protection regulations while reducing the time and procedures required to start a business and eliminating the minimum capital requirement. We continue to automate Kuwait Business Center to reduce the amount of time and the number of procedures to start a business by more than 60%, which will further facilitate business registration and licensing services. Reforming business environment laws will be paramount, and we are including the Companies Law, Insurance Law, Civil Procedures Law, Competition Protection Law, Industry Law, Commercial Agencies law, and regulation of Accounting Vocation law. Equally important, we are continuing our support for local innovation, SMEs, and the entrepreneurship ecosystem through one of the largest SME funds in the world, aiming for Kuwait to become a hub for innovation in the region. Additionally, in order to support industries and improve their competitive edge, we continue to provide them with financial, fiscal, and land incentives in strategic sectors of our economy.

How can the country better utilize its bilateral trade agreements to increase its economic participation at the global stage?

We are activating all our trade agreements and developing new ones by building on the partnerships developed over the years with the significant portfolio of investment in many countries in the world through our Kuwait Investment Authority in major global businesses and through providing easier access to foreign investment through Kuwait Direct Investment Promotion Authority (KDIPA) as well as ensuring transfer of knowledge, particularly in the field of technology. Moving forward, one of our primary focuses is reducing our trade balance by building the private sector's capacity and providing incentives to businesses in order to help them become competitive in the global markets. This will significantly help Kuwait to move away from oil dependency and diversify its economy. Also, promoting the overall business and capital market environment is key to developing new strategic commerce and industrial sectors, and the legal frameworks will be paramount to encourage commercial and industrial sectors. In addition, we have helped start-ups to successfully expand globally, benefitting from all the recent reforms and support provided through the promotion of entrepreneurial start-ups and the SME ecosystem, raising youth awareness and entrepreneurship and business, improving access to financing mechanisms, and supporting services for start-ups and SMEs, and enhancing performance and quality of those service.

What competitive advantages does Kuwait have compared to its neighboring countries?

Kuwait is one of the most politically and economically stable countries in the region, with easy access to its market and a new generation of innovative talented Kuwaitis capable of building the future economy. Our strategic location makes us a doorway to the Gulf states, and we are working on developing our transportation infrastructure to become even more attractive as a logistics hub for the region.