Kuwait & Canada Relations

The State of Kuwait established diplomatic relations with Canada in 1965 when Kuwait’s ambassador to the U.S. became also a non-resident ambassador to Canada. Kuwait’s Embassy in Ottawa was opened in 1993 and Canada’s Embassy in Kuwait was opened in 1978.

Canada was a substantial contributor to the international coalition that liberated Kuwait following the Iraqi invasion in 1990. Kuwait acknowledges and appreciates Canada’s role in the Gulf War as well as its assistance in fighting the oil well fires that broke out during the war.

In recognition of Canada’s participation in the War of Liberation of Kuwait in 1990/1991, the Embassy of Kuwait in Ottawa presented Kuwait’s Medals of Liberation to all Canadian soldiers and officers who participated in the war in recognition of their efforts and great service, and as a token of thanks and deep appreciation from Kuwait’s government and people.

Kuwait and Canada share many common views and interests and this has led to a mutually-supportive pattern of cooperation between the two nations.

High-level meetings and visits have strengthened Kuwait’s relationship with Canada. His Highness Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the late Emir of the State of Kuwait, met in September 1995 on the margins of the UN’s General Assembly annual meeting in New York, with the Right Honourable Jean Chretien, the former Prime Minister of Canada.

A series of other official visits between the two countries have taken place, some of which are the following:

  • The visit of His Excellency Dr. Mohammad Al-Sabah, Kuwait’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, to Ottawa on September 24 - 25, 2006.

  • The visit of His Excellency Ahmad Rashed Al Haroun, Kuwait’s Minister of Commerce and Industry who led a trade mission to Canada on November 3-7, 2009 and signed a Memorandum of Understanding on economic cooperation with Canada’s Minister of International Trade, the Honourable Stockwell Day.

  • The visit of the Honourable David Emerson, Canada’s former Minister of International Trade, to Kuwait in November 2007; who led a Canadian trade mission to Kuwait to pursue trade and investment opportunities with Kuwait and opening doors to partnerships between businesses of the two countries.

  • On January 6, 2008, the Speaker of the Senate of Canada, the Honourable Noël Kinsella, made a 5-day official visit to Kuwait where he met with His Highness the Amir, His Excellency the Speaker of Kuwait’s National Assembly and His Highness the Prime Minister as well as some Kuwaiti businessmen and economic figures.

Trade and Economic Relations with Canada:

On the 28th of January 2002, the Government of Kuwait and the Government of Canada signed an agreement on “Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion” which was brought into force in 2003.

On May 17, 2007, the two countries signed an Air Transport Agreement for scheduled air services. It is the first air transport agreement between Canada and the State of Kuwait. This agreement will provide more choices and benefits for travellers, air carriers and airports, and will contribute to increasing the bilateral air travel market in both countries.

After a series of negotiations between Kuwait and Canada, an agreement on Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection was initialled between the two countries in October 2008.

In November 2009, His Excellency Ahmad Rashed Al Haroun, Kuwait’s Minister of Commerce signed a Memorandum of Understanding on economic cooperation with Canada’s Minister of International Trade, the Honourable Stockwell Day. This new agreement is opening doors for both countries to increase trade and investment. Two-way merchandise trade between Kuwait and Canada in 2008 was valued at $195 million, almost a 70-percent increase over the previous year.

The signed agreement’s objectives are:

  • To enhance economic relations in the fields of trade and investment;

  • To strengthen cooperation with a view to liberalizing trade and investment in accordance with national laws and international obligations;

  • To facilitate the increased involvement of the private sector in trade and investment cooperation; and

  • To promote a favourable environment and complementary activities to encourage private-sector investment.

On January 22-26, 2010, His Excellency Dr. Hilal Al-Sayer, Kuwait’s Minister of Health, headed a delegation of Kuwaiti health and medical officials to Canada and met with Canadian health officials, Kuwaiti medical graduates and visited Toronto and Montreal where he signed agreements with Canadian health and medical institutions.

In Toronto, Dr. Al-Sayer signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Toronto’s University Health Network (UHN). The MOU aimed at developing different cancer treatment services at the Kuwaiti hospitals and included a ten-year strategic plan to bring up health services in Kuwait to UHN-adopted standards. UHN would work on the development of management in Kuwaiti cancer fighting centres including surgical, radiological and chemical therapy treatment. Cooperation also would cover diagnosis, education and training as well.

In Montreal, the Kuwaiti Minister of Health, Dr. Hilal Al-Sayer, signed another Memorandum of Understanding with McGill University's medical center, in the field of cardiovascular research. Dr. Al-Sayer said that the purpose of the agreement is to develop a five-year strategic plan to care for cardiac patients in the Chest Diseases Hospital in Kuwait, in addition to developing human resources in the field.

The agreement includes improvement of healthcare for heart patients in Kuwait following the same standards in McGill University medical center, and increase of consultation between Kuwait and international centers. McGill University will facilitate and give priority for training a number of Kuwaiti physicians in various specialties, particularly subspecialties in surgery for children and adults.

Examples of major Kuwaiti investors in the Canadian market are Petrochemical Industries Company (PIC) which owns 50% of MEGlobal, specializing in the production and marketing of Ethylene Glycol; Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA); and Kuwait Oil Company (KOC).

The Government of Kuwait has undertaken important steps in the domains of economic and financial reform and encouraged the Private Sector to invest in different vital economic areas throughout the country. There are many investment opportunities for the Canadian companies in Kuwait especially in manufacturing, construction, infrastructure and health. Kuwaiti regulations on Foreign investment, which impose only a 15% tax on a foreign firm’s net profit, provide the appropriate protection to foreign investors and facilitate their work.

Trade between Kuwait and Canada has reached $195 m. in 2008. Canadian exports to Kuwait include food products, spare parts and engines. Kuwaiti exports to Canada include petroleum derivatives.

Cultural Relations:

Kuwait and Canada have excellent cultural relations and these are being encouraged and developed. There are about 262 Kuwaiti graduates and undergraduates currently studying in Canada. Kuwait University delegates physicians and graduates to Canada for postgraduate studies. Also the Public Authority for Applied Education and Training in Kuwait delegates Kuwaiti students to Canada who join educational institutions for Associate Degrees, Applied Degrees, Undergraduate and Graduate Degrees.

In cooperation with the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) and Norman Paterson School of International Affairs (NPSIA) in Carleton University, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kuwait sends junior Kuwaiti diplomats to Canada to receive diplomatic training which covers many areas that include International Affairs, Policy, Law and International Trade & Economics as well as language training. This program is a landmark in the development of academic and cultural relations between the State of Kuwait and Canada.

Parliamentary Relations:

Kuwait-Canada Parliamentary Friendship Group was established after a visit made by the Speaker of Kuwait’s National Assembly to Canada in 1994. A number of many exchange visits between the parliamentarians of the two countries took place over the past few years.

On January 6, 2008, the Speaker of the Senate of Canada, the Honourable Noël Kinsella, made a 5-day official visit to Kuwait where he met with His Highness the Amir, His Excellency the Speaker of Kuwait’s National Assembly and His Highness the Prime Minister as well as some Kuwaiti businessmen and economic figures. The Honourable Kinsella also attended a session in Kuwait’s National Assembly and visited some "Dewaniahs" in Kuwait.