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Kuwait looks into local fuel, finance, construction

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Kuwaiti ambassador Mohammad al-Hajri (left) meets with Ministry of Commerce secretary of state Kem Sithan on November 30. COMMERCE MINISTRY

Kuwait looks into local fuel, finance, construction

Kuwait is looking to build on its economic ties with Cambodia through trade and investment in the petroleum and financial sectors as well as the construction of high-speed roads, according to the commerce ministry.

Newly-appointed Kuwaiti ambassador Mohammad al-Hajri highlighted this at a November 30 meeting with Ministry of Commerce secretary of state Kem Sithan, expressing particular interest in soft loans and fuel supply for energy, the ministry noted in a statement issued later that day.

The ambassador suggested both countries implement and leverage existing memorandums of understanding (MoU), agreements and legal frameworks to the fullest extent possible to deepen cooperation in all fields, the statement said. Al-Hajri also proposed looking into holding joint trade fairs and business forums that could encourage more bilateral trade and investment.

Sithan said the Cambodian government has introduced key policies and schemes to push up business and investment activity in the country, including: export market diversification initiatives such as free trade agreements (FTA) under bilateral and ASEAN frameworks; special economic zones (SEZ); and airports, deepwater ports and other major physical infrastructure projects.

An SEZ is a specially-defined region within a jurisdiction’s borders that is subject to different – typically more liberal – legal, administrative and economic regulations than elsewhere in the same jurisdiction, including unique tax, logistical or one-stop service arrangements designed to attract business and investment.

Sithan invited Kuwaiti investors to seize the Kingdom’s economic opportunities, recommending establishing a production base and connecting into regional supply chains, and in particular working towards the export of quality agricultural and agro-industrial products or other goods that could compete internationally, according to the statement.

On a similar note, negotiations are underway for a Cambodia-United Arab Emirates Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CAM-UAE CEPA), with the Kingdom set to host the second round of talks from December 19-21. Cambodia aims to craft a deal that adequately expands trade with Middle Eastern countries such as Kuwait.

A CEPA is a type of FTA generally designed for a more holistic coverage beyond just commodities, and can contain provisions for services, investments, dispute resolution, intellectual property rights, government procurement, and additional forms of specialised economic cooperation.

Meanwhile, the ministry reported the January-October Cambodian-Kuwaiti trade volume at $0.64 million, listing major goods traded as garments, travel goods and other textile-related items; tobacco, machinery and electronic components, polymers of ethylene, and glass and glassware.

Annual bilateral trade between the two countries increased 18 per cent from $0.3167 million in 2020 to $0.3739 million in 2021, and has remained heavily tilted in Cambodia’s favour over the last several years, according to Trading Economics.

Cambodian exports to and imports from Kuwait in 2021 were to the tune of $0.30393 million and $0.06993 million, respectively, rising by 13.2 per cent and 45.3 per cent over the 2020 figures, the statistics website indicated.

In 2021, “tobacco and manufactured tobacco substitutes” accounted for the largest share of Cambodia’s exports, at 54.9 per cent or $0.16675 million (up 76.9 per cent over 2020), while “plastics and articles thereof”, which includes polymers of ethylene, made up the overwhelming majority of the Kingdom’s imports, at 96 per cent or $0.06682 million (up 103 per cent).

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