Kuwait Business Profile
Statistics• GDP: US$68.4 billion (2005).
• Main exports: Oil and refined products and fertiliser.
• Main imports: Food, construction materials, vehicles and parts and clothing.
• Main trade partners: UK, Japan, USA and Germany.
EconomyKuwait’s considerable wealth is the result of the country’s vast oil deposits, estimated at 100 billion barrels (9% of the world’s total known reserves). With production of over 2 million barrels daily, oil now accounts for about half of total output, 90% of export income and three-quarters of government revenue.
The economy has long since recovered from the extensive and systematic looting conducted by Iraqi troops during the occupation of 1990-1. This was estimated to have cost Kuwait US$170 billion, and the extent of the reconstruction was reflected in the fact that Kuwait was obliged to liquidate a large proportion of its overseas investment portfolio.
These holdings, which are administered by the Kuwait Investment Office, are used partly to meet the country’s running costs (free education and social services) and partly lodged in the Fund for Future Generations. During the 1990s, Kuwait, not surprisingly, invested large sums in building up a military apparatus.
There has been some diversification of the economy, promoted and funded by the government. Heavy industrial projects have been eschewed in favour of light manufacturing industries such as paper and cement production. There is a small fishing industry and some agriculture. The government has tabled a privatisation programme both as a means to raise revenue and as an instrument of economic policy. A free-trade zone has also been established.
Kuwait is a member of OPEC and of the Gulf Co-operation Council. The re-emergence of OPEC as a major influence appears to have triggered some disputes inside the Kuwaiti government over oil production and pricing policy. Japan, The Netherlands and Italy are the main markets for Kuwaiti oil. The principal exporters to Kuwait are Japan, the USA, Germany and the UK.
Business EtiquetteMen are expected to wear suits and ties for business and formal social occasions. English is widely spoken in business circles, although a few words or phrases of Arabic are always well received. Business cards are widely used. Some of the bigger hotels have translation and bilingual secretarial services.
Office hours: Sat-Wed 0830-1300 and 1600-2000.
Government office hours: Sat-Wed 0700-1430 (winter); 0700-1400 (summer).
Commercial InformationKuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry
PO Box 775, Safat 13008, Kuwait City, Kuwait
Tel: 805 580 ext. 555.
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