KUWAIT: His Highness the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah said China could help set up industrial and high-tech parks in northern Kuwait – part of Gulf state’s strategic plans to diversify economy and be a global trade and financial hub.

The Chinese contribution will help achieve Kuwait government’s 2035 national development strategy.

His Highness the Amir, in an interview with Chinese Xinhua News Agency, said the strategic development plan is aimed at achieving a strategic transformation into a diversified economy, as well as being an international trade and financial center capable of attracting multi-faceted investments. His Highness the Amir, who arrived in China earlier Saturday hopes China would help establish industrial and high-tech parks in northern Kuwait.

“We encourage the Chinese business and financial institutions to operate here,” said His Highness the Amir. His Highness is scheduled to meet senior Chinese officials. He will also attend the opening ceremony of the 8th ministerial meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum in Beijing.

Commenting on China’s Belt and Silk Road Initiative, His Highness said that Kuwait was among the first countries to sign a cooperation agreement with Beijing under the initiative. The initiative, consisting of Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, is designed to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa and beyond the ancient Silk Road trade routes. Kuwait Amir said the 2013 initiative was compatible with Kuwait strategic development plans, and would help his country, which in 2015 announced a plan to develop its islands, achieve its development goals.

China is Kuwait’s largest source of imports, as trade volume reached a record $12.04 billion in 2017, according to Xinhua, while Kuwait is China’s fourth largest crude oil supplier in the Arab world. There are currently more than 40 Chinese companies operating in Kuwait with about 80 projects in progress in sectors of oil, infrastructure, communications and banking.

“I wish to emphasize that we are proud of the significant role which is played by Chinese enterprises in the development of our country,” His Highness said. “Chinese companies are highly professional, and we are very happy to cooperate with them,” towards more large-scale development projects in Kuwait, which was the first country to establish diplomatic relations with Beijing, His Highness noted.

He went on to say that the development of partnership and bilateral cooperation with China on the basis of mutual benefit contributed to better well-being of Kuwaiti and Chinese people as well as common progress. His Highness said Kuwait and China maintained strong political and economic relations, and his China visit “demonstrates the determination to strengthen such ties.” He pointed out that Kuwait and China have been working together under the framework of international and regional organizations.

Kuwait Amir called for “more consultation and coordination” with China due to the “sensitive and critical political, economic and security situations on the international and regional levels.” He said China’s role on the international stage would help tackle challenges facing the Arab and Gulf countries. “A friendly China will assume historical responsibilities, maintain international peace and security, and play a positive and outstanding role,” His Highness noted.

Last Friday, Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Jarallah said that His Highness the Amir’s China visit would contribute in setting a “roadmap” for future strategic relation with Beijing, as well as giving more oomph to cooperation in many crucial domains. This is His Highness’s second official visit to the People’s Republic of China since assuming rule, and the fourth since taking office in the state when he was a foreign minister. – KUNA

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