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Kuwait to compete with Dubai for transit trade with Iran

KUWAIT CITY (AFP) - Kuwait is to open a free trade zone in October that it hopes will compete with Dubai for the transit trade with Iran, the official news agency KUNA said yesterday.

"The free trade zone in Kuwait will be in a position to draw a good percentage of the trade between Iran and Jebel Ali," the free trade zone in Dubai whose trade volume is four billion dollars a year, it said.

Kuwait's free trade zone, first approved back in 1961, will also look toward trade with Central Asian republics through Iran and other Persian Gulf states for its success, KUNA added.

The zone is part of an ambitious plan to liberalize Kuwait's oil-dependent economy and attract foreign investors, encouraging the private sector and boosting an economy wracked by a lengthy slump in oil prices.

Kuwait's free trade zone is not the only trading venture to challenge the dominance of Jebel Ali in the Persian Gulf region.

Oman opened a port in its southern town of Salalah in November 1998, and Bahrain is set to open a container terminal in its northern town of Hidd in 2002.

Dubai, the regional leader and world number 10 for container transit, has said it does not fear the competition but warned against a "suicidal price war" between ports.


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