The recent endorsement of the Kuwaiti government's five-year development plan has seen renewed interest from foreign investors in the means available to them to secure 100% ownership of a Kuwaiti company.
If this is possible, then such a company would be employed to participate, as a contractor, sub contractor and project operator (foreign-owned vehicle) in the impressive and lucrative flow of infrastructure projects comprised in the plan, with those investors retaining both control of the company and the benefit of its earnings.
Such a means is provided by the Foreign Investment Law (Law 8 of 2001), which ousts the long-established requirement that Kuwaitis must hold the majority of every Kuwaiti company. Of particular relevance is the range of commercial activities that may be conducted by a foreign-owned vehicle: non-oil construction, operation and management, hospitals and land, sea and air transportation, for example.
Attractive additional concessions granted by the Law are: 10 year tax exemption, streamlined repatriation of earnings and capital, relaxation of certain customs duties and import restrictions, real-estate concessions, and guaranteed protection from governmental expropriation, for example.
The machinery for the processing of the requisite commercial license from the Ministry of Commerce & Industry (MOCI) has been in place for some time, with a MOCI agency, the Kuwait Foreign Investment Bureau (through its Foreign Capital Investment Committee (FCIC)), being charged with the processing of licence applications.
Prior to the adoption of the plan, long delays in the licence application procedure had been experienced. The FCIC was seen as taking undue time to review, comment upon and finalise the very detailed business plan required to accompany the application in many cases.
It is hoped that now that procurement of projects under the plan has begun, this process will begin to operate more quickly.