France and Kuwait

Presentation

Political relations

France and Kuwait have a long-standing, confident bilateral relationship. A strong memory remains of France’s contribution to liberating Kuwait in 1991, and its firmness on Iraq’s implementing Kuwait-related UN resolutions (acknowledgment of the border, payment of compensation, return of archives and remains of Kuwaiti soldiers) is appreciated.

France supports the mediation of the Emir of Kuwait in the crisis between Qatar and its neighbours.

Bilateral visits

Visits to France

  • May 2015: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah.
  • June 2015: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah.
  • October 2015: Prime Minister, Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Sabah.
  • October 2016: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah

Visits to Kuwait:

  • January 2015: Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, Mr Laurent Fabius.
  • March 2015: Minister of State for Development and Francophonie, Ms Annick Girardin.
  • June 2015: Minister of Defence, Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian.
  • August 2016: Minister of Defence, Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian.
  • July 2017: Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian.

Economic relations

The overall value of bilateral trade, which fell markedly in 2016 after an exceptional year in 2015, is now up, with a trade surplus of €110.4 million for France.

Over the first nine months of 2017, France exported €301.8 million of goods, as against €261 million over the same period in 2016, representing a 15.6% rise. The main exports are textiles, for €43 million; chemicals, perfumes and cosmetics, for €40 million; industrial and agricultural machinery, for €36 million; and agrifood products, for €35 million.

Over the same period of 2017, France imported €191.3 million of goods (primarily hydrocarbons), as against €300.3 million over the same period in 2016, representing a 36.3% fall. However, Kuwait does remain France’s third-largest supplier in the Gulf, behind Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The bilateral trade balance has thus improved considerably, from a deficit of €39.2 million over the first nine months of 2016 to a surplus of €110.4 million over the same period of 2017.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

France enjoys a positive image in Kuwait. The Kuwaiti Government has introduced French language teaching in public secondary schools. The National Guard has done the same in its officer training programmes. The Lycée Français of Kuwait, under contract with the Agency for French Education Abroad (AEFE), has more than 400 enrolled students and 15% of them are Kuwaiti. This is one of the highest percentages in French schools in the Gulf.

For the last ten years or so, positions equivalent to that of interns are given to Gulf doctors who come to complete specialized medical training in French medical schools and hospitals, at the end of which they are awarded a specialized degree. The Gustave Roussy Institute has worked since 2013 to establish a regional oncology centre in Kuwait (120 beds).

Archaeological research is intense. The French Centre for Archaeology and Social Sciences, a French research institute abroad, competent throughout the countries of the Arabian Peninsula (United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman), was established in Kuwait in 2016 after previously being situated in Yemen.

Other cooperation

In the area of defence, our countries are bound by an agreement dating back to 1992, the first signed by France in the Gulf region, which was renewed in 2009. Our military presence in the Gulf and our participation in efforts to combat Daesh (a French detachment is hosted by Army Forces Central Command-Kuwait in Kuwait) have enhanced our image as a major player in the region.

Updated: 18 December 2017