Vietnam, Kuwait enhance economic cooperation

08:20 | 03/04/2018 Cooperation

(VEN) - Vietnam Economic News’ My Phung spoke with Khaled Falah Al-Mutairi,  Kuwaiti Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City, about achievements in bilateral cooperation especially in economic ties between Kuwait and Vietnam, after 42 years of diplomatic relations.

vietnam kuwait enhance economic cooperation

What are major achievements in bilateral cooperation between Kuwait and Vietnam after more than four decades of diplomatic relations?

Kuwait and Vietnam established diplomatic relations in 1976 and we were one of the first countries to establish the relationship with your country after the unification. Since then, our bilateral relationship has been unceasingly developed and continued to make progress and boom at all levels. We are proud that Kuwait is the first country in the Gulf Region where Vietnam established its embassy in 2003. Kuwait also opened its Embassy in Hanoi and the Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City in 2007. In May 2016, His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah paid a state visit to Vietnam on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries. After the visit, several trade agreements and a number of memorandums of understanding (MOUs) were signed. We hope to receive the leaders of Vietnam to visit Kuwait soon to further enhance the bilateral relationship between the two countries. I realize that these visits will confirm the importance of promoting as well as activating and monitoring the implementation of the agreements signed, which in turn leads to further strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries and improve processes to achieve the objectives of building strategic economic partnerships.

Can you tell about the bilateral trade between Kuwait and Vietnam in 2017?

In 2017, the two-way trade value between Kuwait and Vietnam reached more than US$350 million, a nearly-double increase compared to US$184 million of 2016. Major exports from Vietnam include textiles and garments, seafood, wood and wooden products, fruits and vegetables, computers, and footwear. Major imports from Kuwait are fertilizer, chemical products, material plastics, oil and gas. Vietnam and Kuwait are becoming strategic partners in the oil and gas sector, with the Nghi Son Refinery Project as a flagship and much more potential for long-term and mutually beneficial cooperation. In October 2017, Idemitsu Q8, a joint venture between Kuwait Petroleum International (KPI) and Idemitsu Kosan of Japan opened their first fuel-service station in Vietnam. I strongly believe this would contribute to the increase in the bilateral trade value between Kuwait and Vietnam in the coming years to reach the target of US$2 billion by 2020 as set by our two governments.

What are the key aspects to promote the trade relations between the two countries in 2018 and the coming years?

I think the shortest and most effective ways to strongly promote the trade relations between Kuwait and Vietnam in the coming years are through the exhibitions and trade fairs to be organized in both countries, exchange of business delegations as well as the close cooperation between our business communities. I really expect large companies operating in different business sectors in Vietnam could gather together and organize some exhibitions and participate in the development projects in Kuwait. The Consulate General of Kuwait will strive to be a bridge to connect and open doors to the cooperation with the private sector in Vietnam. Especially, Kuwait is a large market having mega development projects; therefore we always need to cooperate with foreign partners.

Which sectors in Vietnam will attract Kuwaiti investors in the years to come? Which industries in Kuwait are suitable for Vietnamese investors?

I would like to stress the importance of cooperation between the private sectors of the two countries, given their leading role in the economy. The private business sector of Kuwait is interested in strengthening the cooperation with the business community in Vietnam as well as chambers of commerce, especially the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI). We are looking for cooperation with Vietnam in sectors such as oil and gas, hospitality (hotels, resort), real estates. Vietnamese companies are always welcomed to Kuwait to do marketing and introduce their products. We would also invite all the Vietnamese business people and companies to invest in many different development projects in Kuwait, especially in the fields of construction, agriculture and aquaculture. It is surely that your investment will help to contribute to promoting bilateral trade value and strengthening commercial relations between our two countries in the years ahead.

vietnam kuwait enhance economic cooperation
Khaled Falah Al-Mutairi (right), Kuwaiti Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City and Vo Van Sen, Director of the University of Social Sciences and Humanities under the Vietnam National University - Ho Chi Minh City

The Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) has supported Vietnam in many rural infrastructure projects. Could you share the fruit of this cooperation and Kuwait’s official development assistance (ODA) for Vietnam in recent years?

KFAED was the first institution in the Middle East established long time ago that has been taken an active role in international development efforts and regarded as a solid bridge of friendship and solidarity between the State of Kuwait and the developing countries. It is also one part of the implementation of the foreign policies of Kuwait. The fund has extended finance to support development projects, cover the costs of the feasibility studies of projects as well as training of officials of the borrowing countries. In the past many years, exactly since 1979, through KFAED, Kuwait has provided Vietnam with preferable ODA loans for 15 development projects to develop the infrastructure system in rural and mountainous areas, natural disaster affected areas in Vietnam with total ODA capital of about US$ 182 million. Most recently in December 2017, KFAED extended a loan of about US$ 9.52 million (2.8 million Kuwaiti Dinar) to assist in the financing of the Coastal Infrastructural Development Project for Responding to Climate Changes in Thai Thuy District, Thai Binh Province in the north of Vietnam. We believe that these ODA loans will partially contribute to economic development in Vietnam, and help to improve the living standard of people in undeveloped areas and to narrow the development gap between rural, mountainous and urban areas in Vietnam.

I would like to emphasize that the political leaders of Kuwait are very interested in economic development of Vietnam, especially Ho Chi Minh City - a promising economic center. I feel satisfied with economic cooperation between our two countries and will strive for new opportunities for cooperation contributing to the establishment of an economic strategic partnership for our mutual benefits.

This year is the 57th anniversary of the Independence Day and the 27th anniversary of the Liberation Day of the State of Kuwait. Kuwait also took the United Nation Security Council presidency in February 2018.

My Phung