By Daniel Hunter

British firms are being urged to explore new trade opportunities with Kuwait as the UK welcomes His Highness the Emir of Kuwait on a three day state visit.

The Emir will meet with UK businesses at Lancaster House today (Wednesday) to discuss the benefits of UK-Kuwaiti business partnerships. This will be followed by a networking reception for UK businesses to find out more about potential opportunities in Kuwait.

The event comes as new commercial deals were signed between UK companies and Kuwait:

· A letter of mutual intent for the development of the Kuwaiti Security Programme will be signed. The Kuwaitis will provide an initial investment to FCO Services (a trading fund of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office) to fund the first phase of a programme of works to enhance Kuwait’s homeland security. This represents a major opportunity for the UK’s defence and security industries.

· Capita Symonds, a leading firm of architects, has just been awarded a multi million pound contract for the design review and construction supervision of a 415 bed expansion programme to the existing Amiri Hospital in Kuwait. The project, which will be undertaken in association with local firm Gulf Consult, is expected to last four years and will require the input of Capita Symonds professional staff over this period in UK and Kuwait.

· The Kuwait Investment Office, which was set up nearly sixty years ago, has announced a long term roadmap for investing in the UK. The decision will allow, for the first time, large scale investment into UK infrastructure projects.

Lord Marland said:

“The economic relationship between our two countries is flourishing. The Prime Minister visited Kuwait in February 2011, where he stated our intent to double bilateral trade to £4 billion by 2015.

“I am very pleased to say that we are well on the way to doing that, with exports on goods from the UK up 17% for the first 8 months of 2012 compared with the same period in 2011, while the services sector saw a 13% increase in 2011 compared with the previous year. This is a trend we will work extremely hard to sustain over the next few years.”

Anas al-Saleh, Minister Commerce and Industry, State of Kuwait, said:

“Kuwait is very much open for business. The announcement of both public and private sector commercial deals truly shows Britain’s confidence in Kuwait. Meanwhile, Britain remains one of Kuwait’s most important trading partners, as evidenced by the 60th anniversary of the Kuwaiti Investment Office in London, the oldest sovereign wealth fund in the UK.

“The State Visit of His Highness The Emir of Kuwait to the UK has provided the opportunity to maintain and build on the relationships that are at the heart of the close friendship between our two countries. Today’s announcements highlight that our business relationships are just as important as our diplomatic ones, and demonstrate the continued long-term commitment that Kuwait has made to the UK.”

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