By Fawaz Karami
KUWAIT, Oct 22 (KUNA) -- The Lord Mayor of London Alderman Roger Gifford, Head of London's global financial district, said Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA), the country's leading fund, is the first global sovereign wealth fund of strategic planning and success in selection of investment opportunities.
In an exclusive interview with KUNA, Lord Gifford said his two-day visit to the country was his second, during which he met with a number of Kuwaiti officials to follow up on issues of common interests, adding that it preceded end of his term as mayor.
Volume of investments owned and operated by KIA in the UK exceeds USD 100 million, said the Lord Mayor Gifford, adding that the Authority has high credibility in Britain, given that most of its investments are long-term ones.
He stated that this is a routine visit in which he discussed several investment issues and bilateral relations with a number of Kuwaiti officials, including KIA Managing Director, Bader Al-Saad.
Regarding issuance of visas for Kuwaitis seeking to visit the UK, the Lord Mayor said that during his current visit, he tackled this issue as he expected future significant progress, where Kuwaitis would be allowed to travel to Britain without visas.
There has been an improvement in the British economy, he said, expecting it to grow by two percent this year as it is doing much better than the Eurozone's economy, although the latter has recently improved as well.
The Eurozone's economy has benefited from devaluation of the common currency during the past period of time where there have been several positive economic indicators in Italy, Spain and France, in addition to Germany, which has the region's largest economy.
Meanwhile, Lord Mayor Gifford said that during his visit, he met with a number of officials from the British companies operating in Kuwait, who "saw the determination of Kuwait's government to make a reform," especially after the release of several new economic legislations.
He added that a few British healthcare, IT and education companies have signed contracts in Kuwait.
When asked about the impact of the current political events taking place in the Middle East on trade, Lord Mayor Gifford noted that they do affect the flow of investment and economic growth significantly, but the stability state of the GCC countries has contributed to attracting foreign investments. He stated "People in Europe want to see stability and solidarity in the Gulf region in order to invest." Lord Mayor Gifford said that the US will not repeat what happened at the debt-ceiling crisis that took place this month during next January and February due to their negative effects on the US and global economies.
The Lord Mayor of London said that his current visit included presenting the Mansion House Scholarship to a Kuwaiti scholar, which is the first time to happen in Kuwait.
The scholarship exists to fund scholarships for the brightest and best students and young business executives from overseas to travel the UK to study or undertake training or work experience in the Financial Services Sector. (end) fnk.ba KUNA 221513 Oct 13NNNN