Interview: Péter Szijjártó
What areas of bilateral trade are most attractive for Kuwaiti and Hungarian investors?
PETER SZIJJÁRTÓ: We have recently discussed investment opportunities with the Kuwaiti Investment Office (KIO) in Budapest. The talks focused on the branches of the Hungarian economy in which Kuwait could invest, including farming, infrastructural development and the property market, in addition to the measures taken by the Hungarian government regarding energy security and energy industry investments. The KIO, a part of the Kuwaiti Investment Authority, a sovereign wealth fund that manages 10% of the country's oil revenue, earlier signed a declaration of intent on cooperation with MFB Invest, a unit of the Hungarian Development Bank.
The first session of the Hungarian-Kuwaiti Joint Economic Commission (HKJEC) in Budapest in May 2013 emphasised mutual cooperation in the fields of industry, energy (particularly oil), transportation, air travel, agriculture, water management and environment protection, health care, scientific and technological cooperation, tourism, construction and infrastructure, and education. Food security, renewable energy and chemical industry also provide important and attractive investment opportunities.
How can the Kuwait National Development Plan enhance investment and bilateral relations?
SZIJJÁRTÓ: One key area is to involve Hungarian companies in Kuwait's five-year, $130bn National Development Plan. A key aim for Hungary is to boost our research and development capacity to work on development projects in the Arab world. We are looking for partners in information and communications technology (ICT), water management, environmental protection, and health care, as well as providing top quality Hungarian engineering expertise to the many development projects currently taking place in Kuwait.
A memorandum of understanding about cooperation in the field of public works is under preparation between Kuwait and Hungary in which we wish to increase, promote and consolidate cooperation, concentrating on the construction of highway and road transport networks (both as main and sub-contractors as well as partners), training and exchange of experts, personnel and research in technical areas.
The recent visit to Kuwait by a Hungarian business delegation representing over 20 companies seeking opportunities with Kuwaiti firms shows the opportunities in Kuwait, especially infrastructure development for housing, health, educational and social services.
In terms of technology and knowledge transfer, what are the best opportunities for investment?
SZIJJÁRTÓ: Genetics research, biotechnology, ICT and energy are some promising areas. An important starting point to mapping out research, development and innovation (RDI) business opportunities between the two countries was the first Hungarian-Kuwaiti RDI workshop that took place in March 2013 at the National Innovation Office (NIO) in Budapest.
Given that the RDI strategy for both countries prioritises life sciences, energy and water treatment technologies, in addition to ICT, the workshop was built around these subject pillars. Innovative companies interested in Hungarian-Kuwaiti joint research and development projects, market cooperation in the Gulf, and Kuwaiti capital investment were introduced to the National Technology Enterprises Company, which is mandated by the Kuwait Council of Ministers under a mission to aid the government and private sector in developing and applying modern technology to business solutions. The NIO also prepared a session at the workshop for private discussions with the Hungarian venture capital investment companies interested in cooperation with Kuwait.
During the first session of the HKJEC in May 2013 a cooperation agreement between Hungarian technology firm Cytotech Instruments and Kuwait Life Science Company was signed. Three other agreements are also under negotiation between Hungary and Kuwait.
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