Kuwait eyes Asia for food supply, agriculture investments
Reuters | 17 August 2008

DUBAI: Kuwait is talking with Asian countries about securing food supplies and investing in agriculture as the Gulf state looks to diversify its sources of food, state news agency KUNA reported yesterday. It said food imports was a key topic on a trip by Prime Minister Shiekh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah to eight Asian countries to boost trade ties.

And a delegation including the Kuwait Investment Authority, a sovereign wealth fund, will visit Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar later this month to look at investments in agriculture and industry, KUNA quoted finance minister Mustapha Al-Shamali as saying. The delegation will include the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development and Kuwait Flour Mills and Bakery Co, Shamali said.

A Kuwaiti delegation will be visiting these three countries as of the 19th of this month to get better acquainted with their laws and regulations, and to explore opportunities for real estate, industrial and agricultural investments," KUNA said. Referring to this month's trip to Asia by Sheikh Nasser, KUNA reported: "One of the main topics discussed was food imports from these countries as a means for securing food supply, facilitating Kuwaiti energy supply to them, as well as cooperation in oil exploration and the agricultural field.

Kuwait's cooperative union said last month the Gulf state, a largely desert nation, was interested in investing in farmland abroad to help secure food supplies. Inflation in the world's seventh-largest oil exporter has hit records above 11 percent this year, driven by higher food and housing costs. Kuwait imports most of its food. Other states in the world's biggest oil-exporting region are also looking abroad to secure food supplies.

The Saudi government is negotiating on behalf of Saudi investors to set up projects in Sudan, Egypt, Ukraine, Pakistan and Turkey for wheat, barley, soy bean, rice and animal fodder. The KIA plans to as much as triple its investments in Japan to $48 billion, KUNA reported earlier this month, quoting Shamali, who said the investments follow an agreement to avoid double taxation between the two countries. Kuwait was also discussing boosting investments in South Korea and looking into "cooperation in the oil and gas sector" with Japan, Thailand and Brunei, KUNA said yesterday, without giving details.

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Source: Reuters