For a long time, the State of Kuwait relied on seaborne trade by exchanging goods with countries reached by Kuwaiti ships. In fact, the geographical situation, the free spirit of Kuwaiti people and their good skills in trade, the wide and various imports and their discovering of new goods contributed, within decades, to strengthen and develop the main specificity of Kuwaiti trade, which is external trade.
Thus, the State of Kuwait addresses itself to develop its foreign trade in accordance with time and its rapid changes. Kuwait reinforces and develops foreign relationships between the State and Golf Cooperation Council States, Arab States and foreign States, furthermore, it consolidates relations with relevant organizations, especially with the World Trade Organization.
On 3rd May 1963, the State of Kuwait adhered to the General Agreement On Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and to the World Trade Organization (WTO) which replaced the (GATT) in 1995. The WTO is considered as the unique multilateral system in the World that gathers into the same framework the regulations and procedures that rule world trade. Since its foundation, the WTO has not only enhanced the development of world trade, but has also contributed to the interaction between Governments and private sectors in the Member States through their effective participation at WTO Meetings, Ministerial Conferences and Forums in order to be in conformity with Trade Globalization and its recent developments. The most important participations of the State of Kuwait in the Ministerial Meetings were:
The State of Kuwait focused its attention during the ministerial and regular meetings on the following major issues:
First: The State of Kuwait confirmed its full commitment to continue pursuing free-market and open trade policies that integrate the development dimension.
Second: To call upon the developed countries to open their markets to the exports that have great importance to developing countries. Moreover, to request them to decrease all kinds of tariff customs and to prevent misusing of international procedural measures, such as the elimination of dumping, compensation customs and preventive procedures, rules of organization on health and botanical health, and technical barriers on international trade.
Third: To facilitate the adhering process of the developing countries to the World Trade Organization and not to ask them unreasonable requests that might have bad effects on their national trade policies.
The State of Kuwait like any State in the World, is directly involved in the achievements of WTO. The State of Kuwait’s adherence to this Organization demonstrates its belief in the importance of the role that the WTO plays in the field of economic and trade policies. These policies aim at the creation of appropriate circumstances for free competition and the achievement of free-market economy, and also confirm free global trade.
Certainly, the adherence of the State of Kuwait to the World Trade Organization has several advantages, such as the total benefit from its Conventions considered as a reference, and to take advantage of trade commitments proposed by Members States, which encourage to reduce, as a consequence of competition, goods’ and services’ prices.
The State of Kuwait, like other States, is reorganizing its economic situation in order to be in conformity with the new regulations of the Organization. It also enhances the development of various productive sectors, especially those where it has considerable performances.
The State of Kuwait’s Commitments to the WTO
Agricultural and Industrial Goods Sector:
Customs’ tariffs have been fixed to 100% for all agricultural and industrial goods, while the tariffs fixed by Customs Union to Golf Cooperation Council is 5%, which is being implemented since 1st January 2004.
Trade Services Sector
In accordance with national rules and the common interest, the State of Kuwait made commitments in the trade services sectors, e.g in Professional Services, Research and Development Services, Computer and Related Services, and Other Business Services. The percentage of the foreign partnership should not exceed 49% except for Insurance Sector, Air Transport Related Services and Basic Telecommunications Services.
Protection of Intellectual Rights
The State of Kuwait has issued many rules and decisions related to intellectual rights in order to protect copyrights, trademarks, patents and industrial designs. The Government of Kuwait is actually reviewing the expansion of intellectual property, so as to encourage investments.
Kuwait, like other States, is practicing the “Free Trade System”, since it is not imposing barriers or high customs’ taxes in Foreign Trade. Moreover, the State of Kuwait has real tendencies to be more open to foreign countries and to permit capitals to be invested in the Kuwaiti market. Besides, the Government is planning to privatize and to facilitate investment in the public sector.
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