Michael Thomas, Chairman and Strategic Advisor of Pathfinder Trade & Invest (part of CT Travel Group), recently returned from a Trade Mission to Kuwait, supported by the British Embassy and the Kuwait British Business Centre (KBBC).

Considered a resounding success, Michael's report on the Trade Mission can be found below.

The Kuwait market proved to be a very well-funded, diverse, developing market for our delegates whose specialist fields included Transport, HR, Healthcare, IT, Education, Financial Services, PPP and Property Investment in the UK.

The reality is that there is scope for UK exporters in most key industries in Kuwait and the British are welcomed with open arms - partnership is the name of the game. The strong links between Kuwait and the UK mean that British business people are warmly welcome, the Kuwaitis have not forgotten that it was the Brits who drove the first tanks into Kuwait to chase out Saddam Hussein. Each delegate had agreed to have an individual, warmed-up list of contacts, together with some appointments provided for them by the KBBC which proved to be extremely worthwhile.

On the first day, delegates were received by our Ambassador, Michael Davenport, the Director of Trade at the British Embassy, Simon Williams, and Namrata Faheem, Director of Operations KBBC and her team, together with senior local British Expats, to advise on legal matters and security, although we were told that Kuwait was probably the safest country in the Gulf.

The delegation were given a full political, economic and commercial review of UK British Trade relations, which was very encouraging in all aspects. This was followed by a review of the delegation’s planned programme and individual one-to-one meetings, which had been organised in advance on our behalf by the KBBC. After this we held an excellent meeting with the President of Alghanim International Trading & Contracting where delegates heard first-hand the priorities of the group and possibilities for engaging with them in business.

On the second evening, the delegation returned to the KBBC offices where we were able to meet with the Minister for Transport, Chris Grayling and his team, and our Ambassador, following which the delegation were invited to a special Embassy reception to receive the Red Arrows who were in Kuwait showing the Kuwaiti’s the very best of British Expertise in action.

On the following day, those that were interested were invited to lunch by the British Council who do so much to promote good relations between the UK and Kuwait; at the lunch, members of the Ministry of Education were also present.

To sum up, Kuwait is certainly an understated, developing market place for the UK and has much going for it. Following the invasion of Kuwait, there is no doubt that the market took a hit and slowed down, but the important point to note is that Kuwait continued to function and produce oil and now has decided to invest heavily in the country to improve and develop its infrastructure. A key approach of Kuwait is to go down the PPP route; from a business point of view this is very attractive as it enables projects to develop which have government and private sector funding and applies to all major projects. Meanwhile, the service sector is growing fast, particularly IT, Education, Healthcare, Port and Airport development and Transport including Rail, which are a priority. There are not many countries in the Gulf that offer so much to British Business in the current climate and Pathfinder will build on this by returning to Kuwait with another British Trade Mission during 2018.