Kuwait Business Laws
The fundamentals of doing business in Kuwait are no different from elsewhere. The market is price conscious and there is a greater emphasis on price. However the business climate is different and social and cultural affinities have great influence.
Good business depends on good relations anywhere. An attractive brochure, product videos, samples, low-key presentations, pleasantries and patience are essential.
The rules of commerce are in general similar to Western European practice. Any Kuwaiti or GCC national over 21 years of age may carry on commerce in Kuwait provided he or she is not affected by a personal legal restriction. But A foreigner (non-GCC national) may not carry on a trade unless he or she has one or more Kuwaiti partners and the capital owned by the Kuwaiti partner(s) in the joint business is not less than 51% of the total capital (60% in the case of banks, investment houses and insurance companies).
General trading, contracting, importing and industrial licenses are issued by the Ministry of Commerce & Industry (MCI). For particular commercial activities, specific licenses are required and these are often issued by the ministry that controls that activity, e.g. publishing licenses are granted by the Ministry of Information. Business licenses are only issued to Kuwaiti nationals and Kuwaiti companies and, in some cases, to GCC nationals and companies. All licenses require periodic renewal.
The right to import goods into Kuwait on a commercial basis is restricted to Kuwaiti individuals and firms who are members of the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) and who have import licenses issued by the Ministry of Commerce & Industry (MCI).
General import licenses, which must be renewed annually, allow any amount of a variety of products from any country to be imported any number of times. But special licenses are needed to bring in regulated products such as arms, ammunition and explosives, ethyl alcohol, drugs, pesticides, jewellery and precious stones, weights and weighing machines, vintage cars, etc; these too must be renewed annually. Special licenses are also needed to import industrial equipment and spare parts; these are issued to industrial firms upon the recommendation of the Public Authority for Industry and are valid for a single use only.
National-International Trade Associations
Kuwait belongs to the Arab League, the International Monetary Fund, the Organisation of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the United Nations and the World Bank.
The Gulf Cooperating Council (GCC), formed in 1981 includes Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. The Gulf Cooperation Council aims to promote cooperation between its member states, this cooperation is in the fields of economy and industry. The GCC has succeeded in a number of areas, mainly that citizens of GCC countries can move freely amongst the six countries without the need for visas, also there are no customs duty within the GCC (on Gulf produced materials). Probably, more significantly, there is now freedom for professionals of one GCC state to work in another. In addition to being able to work and live in each other's country. Members of the GCC group of Nations are also allowed to own shares in the companies that operate in the GCC countries.
Import And Export Regulations
Only importers who are registered with the commercial registrar at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in Kuwait may have a license to import goods. Kuwaiti individuals can obtain an import license.
Generally, goods once landed can be cleared through customs within a week or two provided the documentation is completely in order. All goods receive a rigorous customs examination. This applies equally to containerized cargoes whether by air or by sea. Lorries are liable to be off-loaded randomly at a special inspection point in Kuwait City. Customs will, accept no responsibility for damage, delays or losses. There are no customs duty levied on food and essential consumer goods.
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