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What are the challenges?

Challenges and risks of doing business in Kuwait

Challenges include:

  • physical presence needed as long-term relationships need to be formed

  • restrictions on company ownership by non-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nationals

  • identifying suitable sponsors for initial entry into the market

  • finding an appropriate Kuwaiti partner for joint ventures

  • bureaucracy

  • slow speed of decision making

  • tendering process can be difficult to navigate

  • extremely hot weather in summer season slows down outdoor activity

  • Kuwait is mid-table ranked in the World Bank’s ‘Ease of Doing Business’

You should ensure you take the necessary steps to comply with the requirements of the UK Bribery Act: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/bribery-act-2010-guidance.

Read the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) Overseas Business Risk report for Kuwait at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/overseas-business-risk-kuwait.

[Source – DIT/FCO/gov.uk]

 

Overseas business risk

Bribery and corruption

Bribery is illegal. It is an offence for British nationals or someone who is ordinarily resident in the UK, a body incorporated in the UK or a Scottish partnership, to commit bribery anywhere in the world.

In addition, a commercial organisation carrying on a business in the UK can be liable for the conduct of a person who is neither a UK national nor resident in the UK nor a body incorporated or formed in the UK. In this case it does not matter whether the acts or omissions which form part of the offence take place in the UK or elsewhere. There are current cases in Kuwait of British companies under investigation for irregularities in relation to gaining contracts in Kuwait.

Most companies will come across cases of bribery and corruption or what appears to be so. The Kuwaiti Government has committed to eradicating such activity especially in relation to government contracts. The situation is not helped by the large amount of bureaucracy and red tape that exists in Kuwait. Patience is always advised when dealing with these matters and as much as possible left to the Kuwaiti business partners to deal with.

The Minister of Commerce and Industry appointed in 2015 has made the tackling of red tape and ease of doing business a top priority, although political infighting has delayed progress. There is also acknowledgement that corruption has to be tackled especially in the awarding of government contracts.

The government has established a new capital markets authority to regulate the financial markets and the central tendering committee for government contracts continues to modify its practices in line with better international standards. This is evidenced in the beginnings of a move towards awarding more contracts on quality of bid rather than simply lowest cost. Kuwait has also recently formed a central anti-corruption authority with a wide remit around investigation, whistle-blowing and asset declarations.

Visit the portal page providing advice and guidance about corruption in Kuwait and some basic effective procedures you can establish to protect your company from them.

Kuwait was ranked 85th out of 180 countries in Transparency International's latest Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI): http://www.transparency.org/news/feature/corruption_perceptions_index_2017.

You can read information about the UK Government’s anti-bribery policy at: https://www.gov.uk/anti-bribery-policy.

Protective security advice

The Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure also provides protective security advice to businesses. See: https://www.cpni.gov.uk/.

Intellectual property

Trademarks, designs, patents and copyright are the principal forms of IP protection available to companies and individuals.

Kuwait is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and a signatory to the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.

Patents must be registered with the Patents Office at the Trademark Control Department of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI). See: http://www.moci.gov.kw/ (site not in English).

Industrial designs must be registered in the Industrial Designs and Models Register. An application for registration must then be submitted to the Trademark Control Department at: https://www.e.gov.kw/sites/kgoenglish/Pages/Services/MOCI/ApplicationForRegistrationForeignBrand.aspx. The registration is valid for five years and can be renewed for two additional consecutive terms.

Kuwaiti Commercial Code, Law No. 68/1980 governs trademark registration and the penalties for infringement. You can apply to register your trademark at the Trademark Control Department. When approved, protection is granted for ten years and can be renewed for another ten.

Article (17) of Law No. 64/1999 defines period of copyright protection.

You should consider how to obtain patent and trademark protection before introducing your products or services to Kuwait. Refer to the information provided on the UK Government’s Intellectual Property page at: https://www.gov.uk/browse/business/exports.

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry in Kuwait takes the lead on IPR. UK companies who feel they have an IPR issue should contact the Director of DIT in Kuwait.

See the GCC Patents Office website: http://www.gccpo.org/DefaultEn.aspx and also the website of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) at: http://www.wipo.int/portal/en/index.html and the information provided on the gov.uk Intellectual Property page at: https://www.gov.uk/intellectual-property-an-overview.

Government support

The government can provide finance or credit insurance specifically to support UK exports through UK Export Finance at: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/uk-export-finance – the UK’s export credit agency. For up-to-date country-specific information on the support available see: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/country-cover-policy-and-indicators#kuwait.

[Source – FCO Overseas Business Risk/gov.uk]


 

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