The Lord Mayor of the City of London William Russell

LONDON: Kuwait and the UAE are among the fastest-growing markets for UK services globally, the Lord Mayor of the City of London William Russell has confirmed. Russell said that British innovation in green and digital are huge opportunities for further collaboration for Kuwaiti investors.

"We look forward to continuing to work with them in the years ahead and see a bright future for our ongoing trade relationship," the Lord Mayor said. He estimates current investments from the GCC nations, namely from Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE greater than 140bn Sterling ($195 billion- current exchange rate), adding that the City continues to welcome these investments into green infrastructure programs. Accordingly, future investments seem to be heading more toward green finance and fintech.

Russell recently held discussions with senior figures in Kuwait and elsewhere in the Gulf on an array of topics, but mainly in terms of green investment in the lead-up to COP26, which will take place here in the UK next November. Unsurprisingly, he considers the prospect of an eventual trade deal with the GCC, which would collectively make it a bigger trading partner for the UK than China as a giant step forward.

On Kuwaiti investment, Russell expressed his delight Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) remains committed to London where it has established itself as the world's oldest sovereign wealth fund back in 1953.He explained that Kuwaiti investments in UK infrastructure include 20% stakes in London City Airport, Associated British Ports, Thames Water, and several significant properties in and around the Square Mile and Canary Wharf.

On Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic's effects, the Lord Mayor of the City of London played down any long-term negative impact, saying that the City will continue to be a vital global center for business, heritage, and culture while continuing confidence from investors and businesses is shown by the amount of development currently underway.

"London's fundamental strengths such as its vast international reach, pragmatism, and spirit of innovation have not been lost, and I am confident that our unique city will continue to thrive for decades to come. We have been through tough times before and we will come through this period as well," he said.

As a result, the Mayor concludes that the City of London and the UK government should now focus on an ambitious vision for the future and lead in growth markets such as green finance, fintech, and other fast-growing areas to enable the sector to retain its position on the world stage. - KUNA