Kuwait Times | October 29, 2007
Kuwait, US ’strong’ economic partners
KUWAIT: Kuwait and the United States are "very strong" economic partners and their relationship is an "extremely important" one, said Under Secretary for International Affairs at the US Department of Treasury David H. McCormick yesterday.
I would characterize Kuwait and the United States as very very strong economic partners. Even though Kuwait is a small importer and exporter, relative to some other countries of the world, we (the US) are the major trading partner of Kuwait and its major investment destination.
He added that "the relationship as an extremely important and strong one, but like all strong relationships, we can always make it stronger ... our purpose here is to find ways to further cooperate on the economic agenda.
McCormick, who is in the country for talks with local economy and finance officials, said the purpose of his visit was to discuss investment and the economic agenda in Kuwait and the region, as well as to follow up on discussions between the US and local officials who attended the annual meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Bank.
Earlier today, the US official met with the finance minister, heads of the Public Institute for Social Security and Kuwait Investment Authority, as well as local and foreign bankers.
Asked what issues were discussed with the Kuwaiti officials, he said they included the recently concluded meeting of GCC finance ministers "and my sense is there is a very active and open and positive dialogue on economic integration, but also a practical assessment on how quickly things can be done.
As for the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) between the two sides, the Under Secretary said that it was "the first step in engaging in economic dialogue in potential areas and can lead in the future to bilateral trade treaties and Free Trade Agreements.
However, he said the basis for moving forward the TIFA and FTAs in general was a clear understanding on both sides on what the requirements were, noting that Kuwait and the US were now at the phase where they were "trying to understand and see whether there is an opportunity to move forward.
The official also noted the importance of economic openness. "As we deal with the environment of globalization and the implications for all of us, there needs to be in Kuwait and around the world a real commitment to openness in terms of trade, a reducing of barriers to investment, and openness to people from outside your own borders in terms of playing a constructive role in a talented workforce.
In response to a question on how the US viewed recent economic reforms in
the Gulf state and the legislations in place, he said the case that was being
made by officials here was that continued reform was "a necessary step in terms of diversifying and strengthening Kuwait’s economy.
He said the reform agenda was "well-understood and well-known" by officials in the country, and hoped that Kuwait would "continue down the path of reform." —KUNA