Kuwait - Country Commercial Guide
Market Overview
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The United States remains a leading trade partner with Kuwait. In 2022, U.S. exports to Kuwait were valued at $3.40 billion, while U.S. imports from Kuwait stood at $1.40 billion, primarily driven by petroleum products. Kuwaitis frequently travel to the United States, with approximately 6,000 plus Kuwaiti students continuing their education at U.S. colleges and universities. Americans and U.S.  brands, as well as products, are warmly welcomed due to familiarity with U.S. culture. Although Kuwaitis are extremely price-conscious, they are also avid consumers. While Chinese and Indian goods increasingly dominate low-end imports, high-quality U.S. exports remain relatively competitive in Kuwait.

Kuwait is located in the northeast corner of the Arabian Peninsula, at the head of the Arabian Gulf. Bordered to the north and west by Iraq, to the south and west by Saudi Arabia, and to the east by the Arabian Gulf. Approximately one-third of the population of 4.4 million are Kuwaiti nationals. The remainder consists of expatriate residents hailing from more than 80 countries. The oil industry and government sector dominate the economy, with crude oil reserves estimated at nearly 101.5 billion barrels, or approximately 7% of the world’s reserves. The oil industry accounts for 90% of government export revenues.  Oil refining and downstream petrochemical processing are the dominant industries. Non-petroleum manufacturing and agricultural sectors are limited. However, local manufacturing in pharmaceuticals and electronics is growing.

In 2017, the government adopted a new development plan “Kuwait Vision 2035” focused transforming Kuwait into a regional trade and investment hub and diversify the economy away from oil.  However, Kuwait has fallen behind in its development goals with many major infrastructure projects cancelled or on hold. Recovering oil prices have improved the 2022-2023 budget, allowing Kuwait to achieve its first budget surplus in a decade. This could help restart many of the key infrastructure projects from Vision 2035.  

Kuwait imports most of its capital equipment, foods, manufacturing equipment, and consumer goods. More than half of the country’s imports originate from China, the United States, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Japan, South Korea, and Germany.

According to the Kuwait Central Statistical Bureau (KCBS), Kuwait’s GDP in 2022 was US $305.5 billion. This represents an increase of 8.7% from 2021. The growth in GDP was driven by high oil prices and increased government spending.  Kuwait’s current oil production capacity is estimated at 3.15 million barrels per day. The government hopes to increase production capacity to 4.75 million barrels per day by 2040. To reach this goal, Kuwait must continue spending and investing in upgrading downstream facilities as well as on upstream oil development.

Transportation equipment, including automobiles and automotive parts, is one of the top exports to Kuwait. In 2022, the United States exported $1.2 billion worth of transportation equipment to Kuwait. This accounted for 34% of all U.S. exports to Kuwait. Oil and gas field equipment, telecommunications and IT equipment, medical equipment, and electronics were also leading export sectors for U.S. firms.

Political Environment

Visit the State Department’s website for background on the country’s political and economic environment.