The Kuwaiti Minister of Commerce and Industry Khaled Al-Roudhan pose for a photo during an interview with Xinhua, in Kuwait City,Kuwait, on June 28, 2018. (Xinhua/Nie Yunpeng)
KUWAIT CITY, July 5 (Xinhua) -- Kuwait is ready to work with China to elevate the bilateral cooperation to a higher strategic level, Kuwaiti Minister of Commerce and Industry Khaled Al-Roudhan told Xinhua in a recent interview.
The minister, who will accompany Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah on a state visit to China from July 7 to 10, saluted the substantial and stable development of the Kuwait-China ties since the establishment of the diplomatic relations in 1971.
During the visit, the Kuwaiti emir will also attend the opening ceremony of the eighth ministerial meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum in Beijing.
"The visit is a new step toward a bilateral strategic partnership, especially in the economic and oil areas, on the basis of solid and extraordinary relations between the two countries," Al-Roudhan said.
Kuwait and China are working together to strengthen and develop their relations with "the earnest desire to consolidate it from a broader prospect," he noted.
The bilateral cooperation covers the areas of trade, investment, finance, energy, culture, health and industry, the minister said.
The value of Kuwaiti imports from China in 2017 reached 1.4 billion Kuwaiti dinars (about 4.6 billion U.S. dollars), said Al-Roudhan.
In February 2010, with an aim to change the country's traditional oil-reliant economic structure, the Kuwaiti government unveiled "Kuwait 2035," a national development strategy to turn the country into a trade and financial hub.
In 2015, the Kuwaiti government announced plans to develop five islands off the eastern coast of the country into free trade zones.
Al-Roudhan said that "Kuwait 2035" is committed to developing Kuwait into a regional center that attracts investment and encourages competition and productivity.
"This plan aims to change the country's revenue model and diversify its income sources, which can be achieved by developing large-scale projects in the near future," he said.
These projects will also help attract direct investment, develop regional industries, and improve the development environment for small and medium-sized projects, he said.
Kuwait hopes to cooperate with China to push forward the "Kuwait 2035" plan within the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China in 2013.
The initiative, which comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa on and beyond the ancient Silk Road trade routes.
Kuwait is one of the first Arab countries that have signed a cooperation agreement with China under the initiative, Al-Roudhan noted.
He believed that China will be an active strategic partner of Kuwait, adding that Kuwait needs more cooperation with China, to learn its expertise in formulating and implementing development strategies.
The minister is interested in strengthening the bilateral cooperation in e-commerce with China, since Chinese enterprises have a lot of experience in this area.
During his visit to China last year, Al-Roudhan met with representatives of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, explaining the advantages and benefits for foreign investment in Kuwait and other incentives offered by the Kuwaiti government.
The rate of using social network services by Kuwaitis has reached 96 percent, as the e-commerce is flourishing in Kuwait, the minister said.
"We're interested in strengthening cooperation with China's leading e-commerce companies and attracting them to invest in Kuwait, which will bring benefits for both sides and help realize the development of a diversified economy in Kuwait," he said.
On the Chinese companies already operating in Kuwait, the minister praised their role in promoting the economic and social development of Kuwait during the past years.
The Chinese companies have been playing "a constructive role" through many development projects in various fields in Kuwait, Al-Roudhan said.
"We are looking forward to learning the experience of these companies to develop Kuwaiti islands and the northern region," he added.