Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah (Source: Getty)
Hanoi (VNA) – The upcoming official visit to Vietnam by Prime Minister of Kuwait Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah from May 5-7 is expected to give a boost to bilateral cooperation in various fields, especially trade, oil and gas, employment, agriculture and tourism.

During the visit, which is made at the invitation of PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc, the two sides are also scheduled to discuss international and regional issues of shared concern.

Vietnam and Kuwait established diplomatic ties on January 10, 1976. Vietnam opened its trade representative office in Kuwait in June 1993, and its Embassy in the Middle East nation in October 2003.

Kuwait opened its Embassy in Hanoi in August 2007 and its Consulate-General in Ho Chi Minh City one month later.

Vietnam has welcomed many Kuwaiti guests over the years, including PM Nasser Al Mohammed Al Sabah (May 2007), Director of the National Security Agency and President of the Olympic Council of Asia Ahmad Al-Fahad Al - Sabah (April 2009), Deputy PM and Minister of Oil M. Al Semali (October 2013) and Chairman of the Kuwait National Assembly Marzouq Al-Ghanim, who came to Vietnam to attend the 132 nd Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in April 2015, among others.

In reply, multiple Vietnamese leaders and officials visited Kuwait, including President Le Duc Anh (1995), Foreign Minister Nguyen Dy Nien (June 2005), Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Nguyen Thi Hang (September 2005), Minister-Chairman of the Committee for Sports and Physical Training Nguyen Danh Thai (March 2006), Minister of Planning and Investment Vo Hong Phuc (July 2007) and PM Nguyen Tan Dung (March 2009).

The two sides signed a range of agreements, covering such areas as economy, science, technology, trade, tax, air transport, visa exemption and foreign affairs.

In February 2016, the Kuwaiti Government recognised Vietnam’s market economy.

The two sides convened the first meeting of the Vietnam-Kuwait Joint Committee in Hanoi in December 2009. The fist political consultation between the two countries’ foreign ministries was held in Kuwait in October 2011, and the second in Hanoi in October 2015.

During the 2011-2013 period, two-way trade exceeded 700 million USD with 836.7 million USD recorded in 2011, mostly driven by Vietnam ’s diesel imports from Kuwait .

Last year, due to the impacts of the world’s falling oil prices and the decrease in Vietnam ’s import of Kuwaiti diesel, bilateral trade stood at only 220 million USD.

Vietnam mainly exports garments-textiles, seafood, wood and timber products, computers, electronics, fruit, vegetables, pepper, footwear and porcelain products to Kuwait .

Its major import items are oil, fertilizer, plastic materials, fabric, chemicals and apparel materials.

In the oil and gas sector, Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) is partnering with Japan in the Vietnam-based Nghi Son Oil Refinery and Petrochemical Complex Project worth 9 billion USD, under which the Kuwaiti side will provide crude oil for the plant.

The plant whose construction began in October 2013 is scheduled to be put into operation in late 2017.

In March 2016, the Hanoi Department of Planning and Investment granted an investment licence to a joint project by Kuwait Petroleum International Ltd ( KPI ) and Japan’s Idemitsu Kosan Co., Ltd to deliver oil and gas products in Vietnam .

Via the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, Kuwait has given loans worth about 160 million USD to Vietnam to help the country implement 13 rural infrastructure development projects.

In October 2013, during Deputy PM and Minister of Oil M. Al Semali’s visit to Vietnam, the Kuwaiti Government granted 3 million USD in non-refundable aid to the country to deal with floods in its central region.

Since 1996, Vietnam has sent its workers to Kuwait . Currently, about 600 Vietnamese labourers are working in the country in the fields of construction and oil and gas.

In the sphere of education and training, Kuwait has provided annual scholarships to Vietnamese students majoring in oil and gas studies, and the Arabian language. About 16 Vietnamese students have to date received Kuwait’s language scholarships.-VNA