Thursday, August 21, 2008

KUWAIT PRESENTS RESULT OF ASIA TRIP

Kuwait Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Muhammad Al-Ahmad A-‘Sabah on Monday briefed the Kuwaiti cabinet on the result of his recent eight-nation trip to Asia, the Kuwait Times reported.

According to the paper, deals worth $27 billion were signed.

The prime minister, together with a large delegation of businessmen from the oil rich kingdom in the Gulf, visited Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), Brunei and the Philippines. One of the main topics of the trip discussed was food import from these countries as a means of securing food supply for Kuwait.

Since the small desert nation, the seventh-largest oil producer in the world, cannot produce enough food to sustain its population, most food items are imported, which makes the country vulnerable to fluctuations in the global market, such as the recent price hike on rice due to fears of insufficient supply.

The rise in food costs is also fueling record inflation of 11 percent in the country.

Another important subject for the trip was gas and oil cooperation. Kuwait already has storage facilities for oil in South Korea and is planning to build refineries in that country in order to be able to keep up with demands in the ever-growing Asian market and to avoid getting completely shut down if an armed conflict should break out between the U.S. and Iran over the latter’s alleged nuclear weapons program.

Kuwait is not the only Gulf nation that is looking eastwards for future investments, contrary to the assumption in the West that the oil-rich Gulf countries would take advantage of the combination of record high oil prices and a weak dollar to boost investment by the U.S.

Saudi Arabia, which produces some 9.3 million barrels of oil monthly, recently signed an energy cooperation deal with Japan and is also developing ties with several Asian countries.

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