New Kuwait 2035 Vision: Shaping the Future of Business in Kuwait
The American Business Council-AmCham Kuwait, in collaboration with Ernst & Young, organized a seminar on the topic- The Tax Landscape in Kuwait/GCC and Its Impact on Businesses on Wednesday, February 12 at the Symphony Style Hotel.
The seminar was attended by officials from the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry, The U.S. Embassy Kuwait and various financial institutions and companies across Kuwait. The objective was to help local businesses and U.S. taxpayers to familiarize themselves with the recent tax and regulatory changes in Kuwait and within the region and to prepare themselves for the upcoming tax filing as well as the impact of changes.
Alok Chugh, Partner, EY Kuwait, and MENA Government and Public Sector Tax Leader, provided an overview of the emerging economic trends in MENA and the impact of the international tax developments on MENA based American organizations. Alok also discussed the recent tax updates concerning the positions of VAT, Corporate Income Tax Rates in the region and the practice of the Tax Authorities in the region. Further, he provided insights on the recent developments from a Kuwait Tax perspective wherein he elaborated on taxability of specific transactions and activities in Kuwait such as agency/distributorship arrangements. He also showcased the impact of certain Executive Rules to the Tax Law in Kuwait, about the overseas transactions and its relation with the internationally followed “Transfer Pricing Regulations”.
Nabeel Alexander, Partner at Integrated Tax Solutions, took to the stage to present on individual taxes for U.S. taxpayers. He discussed various topics such as how to file income taxes when living abroad, the different regulations imposed by the U.S. on banks to comply with reporting standards for U.S. citizens, and the best practices when contacting the IRS.
Nabeel also hosted a Q&A session after his presentation where he clarified doubts of attendees.
Esra Menke, ABCK’s Executive Director, concluded the event with a recognition ceremony where she thanked the event sponsor, Ernst & Young, and guest speakers and presented them with recognition awards.
The American Business Council- AmCham Kuwait held a Thanksgiving Dinner on November 20th at the U.S. Embassy. Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. at the U.S. Embassy Kuwait, Mr. Larry L. Memmott, talked about the origins of Thanksgiving and what this holiday meant to him, and spread the spirit of gratitude to all guests. Following that, ABCK board members and guests bid farewell to our Chairman, Mr. Oswaldo Rueda, and wished him the best in his future endeavours.
Congratulations to our newly elected Chairman, Mr. Frank Belonus.
On Sunday, September 22, The American Business Council Kuwait, The U.S. Embassy of Kuwait, and Women Mentor Forum jointly held their first Women In Finance Event in collaboration with Citibank Kuwait.
The event, which was held at Millennium Hotel and Convention Centre, is an initiative to empower women working in the financial sector in Kuwait and promote diversity within the industry. In attendance was Dr. Catherine Mann, Managing Director and Global Chief Economist at Citigroup, and over 60 women and men from the financial sector in Kuwait and the GCC region.
The event kick started with an opening speech delivered by Mr. Fatah Adour, Chief Executive Officer of Citibank Kuwait, in which he welcomed guest of honor, Dr. Catherine Mann, and the distinguished guests: “We are pleased to be partnering with The American Business Council, Women Mentor Forum, and the U.S. Embassy to host Dr. Catherine Mann in her first visit to Kuwait. We are also happy to have the new Senior Commercial Officer from the U.S. Embassy Kuwait, Ms. Shari Stout, here with us this morning.”
Mr. Adour then discussed the event’s agenda and Citibank’s future plans after which he introduced Dr. Catherine Mann and the moderator Ms. Besma Al Qassar, Women Mentor Forum’s Founder & President.
A discussion then followed between Dr. Catherine Mann and Mrs. Besma Al Qassar where they discussed topics such as globalization, climate change, issues impacting women in the financial sector, and opportunities for women in emerging markets such as FinTech.
“The general view is that demographics slow the labor force and so that means that long term growth will be slower. I disagree with that. Not everyone has the common demographics like these economies, there are countries where the younger people are a large proportion of the population. In addition, 60 is the new 40, just because societies age that doesn’t mean they need to be less productive. Technology is a key driver of business opportunities for change”, said Dr. Mann highlighting the synergies that exist between the younger and older generations and how they both contribute to the growth of the economy.
She also elaborated on how government policies can impact the way businesses
Adding on to that, Dr. Mann highlighted how FinTech presents a great opportunity to be seized for young women as it is an emerging market and there is a lack of women in this field, especially technology. She also expanded on the gender gap and disproportionate male-female ratio in the financial and technology sectors, and how this can lead to biased algorithms, especially when it comes to artificial intelligence where we see gender bias in coding because there are more male coders than females.
Following the discussion, Dr. Mann entertained questions from the attendees.
In response to a question asked regarding what can be done in Kuwait to encourage young women to enter the fields of economics and sciences Dr. Mann highlighted how “It’s important to be involved early on and provide young women with mentors and create visibility for them through networking opportunities. Even before the college level, we can set up programs designed for young women to educate them on the opportunities available and the type of work that they could be doing in the future. It’s important for executives to reach out to school teachers and take the initiative to do that and show students the real-life applications of what they’re learning in school”.
The event resumed with a recognition ceremony where ABCK’s Executive Director, Mrs. Esra Menke, and Head of ABCK’s Women In Business Focus Group, Dr. Abeer Al Omar, thanked guest speaker Dr. Catherine Mann, and the event sponsor Citibank Kuwait.
The event concluded with a group picture with representatives from the American Business Council Kuwait, U.S. Embassy of Kuwait, Women Mentor Forum, Citibank, and Dr. Catherine Mann.
The American Business Council- AmCham Kuwait is back to Business at full speed!
On Tuesday, the American Business Council Kuwait (AmChamQ8) kickstarted the year with their signature Back to Business networking event which was held at Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel and Spa. In attendance was U.S Ambassador to Kuwait, H.E. Lawrence Silverman, and over 100 guests from the U.S. Embassy and ABCK community.
In his opening speech, Mr. Oswaldo Rueda, Chairman of the American Business Council, addressed the distinguished guests, “Welcome to our Annual Back to Business Networking Event and a special welcome to our Ambassador H.E Lawrence H. Silverman this evening.”
Mr. Rueda then called onto the stage the Honorable Mr. Silverman, U.S. Ambassador to Kuwait, for his address to the members of the community. Ambassador Silverman talked about his involvement with ABCK throughout the past 3 years and thanked ABCK for all their efforts: “Thank you to ABCK for being the voice of the business community for the past 35 years, and congratulations on increasing membership by 70%. I have no doubts that ABCK will continue to grow the trade relationship between the U.S. and Kuwait”.
He also added that the U.S. Embassy is currently working on new intellectual property laws for Kuwait and advocating practices that create a favourable business environment: “On June 24, the Kuwaiti parliament passed a new intellectual property law. Our Embassy will continue to promote these opportunities to U.S. businesses and work with the Kuwaiti government to ensure that U.S. companies have a fair and equal opportunity to win these government contracts.”
He then discussed some of the recent accomplishments and projects that the U.S. Embassy has been working on such as Discover America Week, educational programs that provide opportunities for Kuwaiti students to study in the United States, and the opening of EQUATE’s new MEGlobal Oyster Creek Factory in Texas which created thousands of jobs.
Mr. Rueda then presented a recognition award to Ambassador Silverman thanking him for all his contributions to ABCK throughout the years and wishing him well on his next endeavour: “Unfortunately, this will be the Ambassador’s last event with ABCK as he is departing Kuwait. We are very grateful for all his contributions to ABCK throughout the year, and he will be missed greatly”.
Following that, Mr. Oswaldo Rueda, and ABCK’s Vice Chairman, Mr. Frank Belonus, recognized the event sponsors: American International College, Marafie Kuwaitia, and Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel and Spa.
Following that, ABCK Vice Chairman, Mr. Frank Belonus, then took the opportunity to invite guests to enjoy a buffet dinner and fruitful night of networking and meeting new contacts.
After dinner, a town hall meeting commenced where ABCK Vice-Chairman, Mr. Frank Belonus, and Executive Director, Mrs. Esra Cavdarli Menke briefed guests on the expansion plans for the business council while highlighting the major achievements in past years.
The event ended with concluding remarks by ABCK’s Vice Chairman, Frank Belonus.
On July 16th and 17th of 2019, ABCK Vice Chairman Frank Belonus and Executive Director Esra Cavdarli Menke joined the AmCham’s of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Oman, along with several other dignitaries, in Abu Dhabi for a roundtable discussion with Mr. Myron Brilliant, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs, and several other prominent leaders of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Brilliant provided a broad overview of U.S. Chamber global focuses that included the US/Mexico/Canada NAFTA, tariffs, ongoing negotiations with China, an ongoing Africa initiative, ongoing political challenges in Washington DC, his recent meeting with President Sisi of Egypt, and other focuses of trade and investment around the world. Numerous regional issues and initiatives were also discussed, to include the restriction on KSA defense sales, potential AmCham involvement at next year’s World Expo in Dubai, proprietary information policies, and support for US expatriates and US companies’ interests.
The ABCK Vice Chairman and Executive Director also had the opportunity to discuss Kuwait specific issues with several leaders of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that included;
· Increased US and Kuwaiti awareness of ABCK being the AmCham for Kuwait.
· ABCK integration with the new US/Kuwait Chamber Committee forming in Washington DC, to include an invitation for ABCK to be part of inauguration meeting, with the Amir of Kuwait possibly attending, (tentative date is 9 Sept. 2019) in Washington D.C.
· Developing new avenues through U.S. Chamber for ABCK membership to articulate their concerns to multiple agencies of the U.S. government.
· Increased U.S. Chamber focus on Kuwait.
· Increased U.S. Chamber support for ABCK initiatives, events, and with the Kuwaiti government.
· Business and investment challenges faced in Kuwait by our membership.
· Development of a better U.S. business operating environment and supporting policies in Kuwait.
· Support for individual U.S. expatriates and U.S. business interests in Kuwait.
· The U.S. Chamber’s recognition of ABCK’s recent evolution, growth and relevance in Kuwait.
· ABCK’s regional involvement as part of the global network of American Chambers of Commerce.
In their opening remarks, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce leadership highlighted ABCK and the significance of our presence at this meeting to them. The ABCK Vice Chairman said “it was an amazing opportunity to bring added value to ABCK and our membership, addressing Kuwait’s unique issues and concerns to U.S. leadership. It was great to hear the U.S. Chamber talk specifically about their renewed focus on, and efforts in Kuwait, and how ABCK is positioned to play a key role in their efforts. It was a wonderful opportunity for ABCK to increase our relevance nationally in both the U.S. and in Kuwait, setting the conditions for ABCK to do even more for our membership, and for U.S. business interests and investments in and with Kuwait in the near future!”
Seven Business Councils in Kuwait jointly organized their first Inter Councils Summer Networking Event on Wednesday, July 17. The event took place at Holiday Inn Salmiya and in attendance were over 100 guests consisting of members from across the 7 Business Councils in Kuwait: the American Business Council Kuwait (ABCK), the German Business Council Kuwait (GBCK), British Business Forum (BBF), the Australian Business Group (AusBG), the Canadian Business Council (CBC) and Canadians in Kuwait, the French Business Council Kuwait (FBCK), and the Kuwait Italian Business Council (KIB).
In his opening speech, ABCK’s Chairman Mr. Oswaldo Rueda, welcomed guests on behalf of all business councils present. He then introduced all the business councils present and called upon representatives from each council to the stage, and proceeded to inform guests that each of the business councils would be available to answering any questions regarding their respective council.
Following an evening of fruitful discussions and networking, ABCK did a raffle for the attendees in which Holiday Inn Salmiya provided a voucher for dinner for two at its Al-Diwan seafood theme night.
The event concluded with a group picture with all the seven business council representatives present.
The American Business Council of Kuwait (ABCK) hosted its signature Fourth of July celebration this year at the Jumeirah Messilah Beach Resort & Spa. The Fourth of July or Independence Day is regarded as an important national holiday in the U.S. as it marks the anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Declaration of Independence in 1776.
The event kicked off with an opening remark delivered by ABCK’s Chairman- Mr. Oswaldo Rueda followed by ABCK’s Vice Chairman- Mr. Frank Belonus, who gave a brief introduction about ABCK’s operations and the event, and thanked sponsors for making this day possible. Following the speech, the event’s activities commenced with a BBQ and live music performed by the band. In attendance were over 300 guests consisting of ABCK members, U.S. service members and Kuwaiti citizens.
“Today the American Business Council- Kuwait (ABCK) celebrated the United States’ 4th of July Independence Day, traditionally a day of gathering with friends and family, BBQ’s, games and fireworks. With the support of our amazing sponsors and the remarkable support by the stunning Jumeriah Messilah Beach Resort & Spa, we were able to continue this great tradition for our ABCK members, guests, and to nearly 300 U.S. service members currently stationed here in Kuwait. ABCK was very honored to have the U.S. Ambassador, the Honorable Lawrence Silverman and Brigadier General Staudenraus be part of this great event and talk with all in attendance. An amazing Independence Day was had by all on the beautiful shores of Kuwait!”
Following a beautiful day of activities by the beach, the attendees gathered for the singing of the U.S. national anthem and recognition ceremony. Among the guests of honor was Ambassador Lawrence Silverman who thanked the event sponsors and ABCK for bringing this event to life and expressed his gratitude for the service men and the brave sacrifices they make for their country. “I would like to recognize all of the servicemembers here today. Your willingness to step forward and put yourselves in harm’s way, to protect the country and our citizens, is truly special, so I would like to say thank you to all of the troops here with us today, far away from home and your loved ones, for the sacrifices you make and all that you do to keep the United States the land of the free and the home of the brave”
Many ABCK Board members were also in attendance. ABCK’s Chairman Mr. Oswaldo Rueda and Executive Director Ms. Esra Cavdarli Menke recognized the sponsors Raytheon, Venice, IFA International Travel and Tourism, Gulf Facilities Trading and Corporation (GFT), and Jumeirah Messilah Beach Resort & Spa, and thanked the ABCK staff and volunteers for making this day possible. Among those recognized was Mr. Ayman Sawires, General Manager at IFA, Mr. Sam Juahari, CEO of GFT, Mr. Gary Menke, President of Raytheon, Kuwait and Mr.Tom Deren, Vice President for Venice.
The event concluded with a cake cutting ceremony, group picture, and concluding remarks by ABCK’s Vice Chairman, Frank Belonus. The cake cutting ceremony was carried out by Brigadier General Staundenraus, and the youngest soldier in the troop. Per tradition, the oldest and youngest soldiers present join hands in cutting the cake, symbolizing the generations that have served in the army.
American Business Council Kuwait is a non- profit organization who has been advocating American business interest in the State of Kuwait since 1985.
Muscat: The Oman American Business Center (OABC), in a bid to foster closer relationships and business partnerships between regional AmChams (American Chambers of Commerce), hosted the first-ever GCC Regional AmCham Summit at Anantara Jebel Akhdar Resort on June 14 and 15.
“As AmCham affiliates in the GCC, we share one vision and mission. Of course, we also face similar challenges,” said Rebecca Olson, Executive Director of the OABC. “At what we trust will be the first of several meetings to come, we discovered several new ways to overcome these challenges as well as support each other and partner within the region.”
Olson continued, “When we invited regional AmCham leaders to attend this, the first-ever summit of its kind in the region, it was encouraging to see that not a single one hesitated.”
The GCC AmChams represent over 1,000 member companies and millions of dollars of US investment in the region. They are the go to organisations in each country for anything US trade and opportunities related.
Mary McGinnis, Executive Director, American Chamber of Commerce in Bahrain, stated that, “AmCham Bahrain is pleased to participate in this, the first Gulf Regional AmCham Summit. We recognise the power of communication and collaboration and look forward to building closer ties with our neighboring AmChams. In doing so we can bring more value to our members and increase regional, as well as US-Bahrain, trade.”
The two-day event brought together executive directors and board members representing AmChams in Oman, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Kuwait and Bahrain, to discuss opportunities for increased collaboration. This included partnering on joint trade missions to and from the US and bringing key speakers to the region for business events. The delegates also discussed best practices across several key points of interest that could further support member companies, ranging from communication and digital platforms to event planning and benefit programs.
Esra Cavdarli Menke, Executive Director of AmCham Kuwait said, “The event was a tremendous opportunity to learn what best practices other AmChams are using to promote greater US business relationships with our allies in the region.”
The Oman American Business Center is now finalizing its 2019-2020 calendar of events. Last year the organisation hosted 27 events in line with its mission to help support the Oman business community and to increase trade and commercial development between the Sultanate and the United States. At each event, executives and decision-makers in Oman meet, build relationships, learn and discuss key matters of interest to the business community.