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Belt and Road Initiative to strengthen China-Kuwait ties: Chinese envoy

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-08-21 16:40

KUWAIT CITY - The Belt and Road Initiative could tremendously bolster ties between China and Kuwait, Chinese Ambassador Wang Di has said.

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Kuwait and China in 1971, the two countries have seen sustained advances in their ties, the ambassador to Kuwait told Xinhua in a recent interview.

Kuwait was the first Gulf Arab state to set up full diplomatic ties with the People's Republic of China.

The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative, first put forward in 2013 by Chinese President Xi Jinping, concurs with the vision of Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah to transform Kuwait into a global center for finance and commerce, said Wang.

He also noted that Kuwait is one of the first Arab countries to have signed a cooperation agreement with China under the Belt and Road Initiative.

Wang said China and Kuwait are economically complementary, and that provides many overlapping areas for the two countries to work together.

On the energy front, crude oil exports account for about 94 percent of Kuwait's total revenues while China has a demand for oil imports, said Wang.

Wang said high quality commodities made in China have room to grow in Kuwait's largely import-dependent market.

Wang cited infrastructure as another area, saying Chinese enterprises are skilled in oilfield exploration and infrastructure construction, in which Kuwait requires plenty of outsourcing for its projects.

Wang said in the field of telecommunication, Kuwait is developing high-speed internet service and smart cities, areas in which Chinese companies are also experts.

In February 2010, with an aim to change the country's long-existed oil-reliant economic structure, the Kuwaiti government unveiled "Kuwait 2035," a national development strategy, hoping to build the country into a trade and financial hub.

In 2015, the government announced plans to develop five islands off the eastern coast of the country into free trade zones, a perfect complement for the Belt and Road, said Wang.

"China is advanced in planning and building economic zones and free trade areas. Chinese enterprises have gained rich experience in port terminal construction, island planning and project implementation," Wang said.

Bilateral trade has rapidly grown in recent years, Wang said.

Trade between China and Kuwait reached $9.5 billion in 2016, more than 60 times the volume since the inception of diplomatic ties. China is also Kuwait's largest non-fuel trade partner. Kuwait, meanwhile, is the eighth largest petroleum exporter to China.

"We firmly believe that, with joint efforts from both sides, China-Kuwait cooperation in the Belt and Road Initiative will bear fruitful results, serving the economic and social development of both sides and further promoting friendly ties," Wang said.

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