His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani paid a working visit to the friendly country of France, during which His Highness discussed with French President Emmanuel Macron, the distinguished relations between the countries and means to enhance and develop them in various fields, in addition to several files and issues of common interest.
His Highness the Amir’s visit to the friendly French Republic reflects the strength of growing strategic partnership between the two sides and their success in forming and building solid relations based on mutual respect, common interests, and co-operation in all fields to secure a better future for the present and coming generations.
His Highness the Amir’s visit to Paris and the talks during the visit have boosted the profound friendship and strategic relations between the two countries, pushing them toward broader horizons, opening new fields for their growth and prosperity for the good interest of the two friendly countries and their people, in a way that serves the peace, security, and stability in the region and the world.
His Highness the Amir’s talks with the French president have established a new phase of co-operation and co-ordination between the two countries. These talks are of great importance due to the successive international developments at more than one level and the fluctuations in energy, raw materials, and food markets, which require high-level communication and consultation between the two countries, especially at a time when Qatar is playing a prominent role in resolving international disputes and mitigating crises in many parts of the world.
The relations between the two countries are witnessing continuous development through the exchange of high-level official visits, the most recent of which is His Highness the Amir’s visit to Paris in May 2022 and the French president’s working visit to Doha in Dec 2021, as well as the president’s visit to Doha in Dec 2022 to attend part of the events of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
Under the directives and careful follow-up of the two countries’ leaderships, Qatari-French relations have become a strategic constant that is culminated in the highest levels of political consultations, reflecting a unified vision, mutual interests, convergence of views toward regional and international issues, as well as the strength of strategic co-operation in the economic, investment, defence, and counter-terrorism fields.
As an embodiment of the political will of the two countries’ leadership to enhance bilateral relations and develop them to a level that serves the interest of the two friendly countries, the first round of the strategic dialogue between Qatar and France was held in Doha in March 2022 under the chairmanship of HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani and Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France Jean-Yves Le Drian.
During the round, they discussed bilateral relations and means of supporting and developing them, several political and economic issues, and international developments, in addition to issues of common interest, especially Chadian reconciliation, political developments in Lebanon, Afghanistan, the Palestinian cause, Libya, and the Iranian nuclear file.
Also, the two sides reviewed the outcomes of the joint working committees of the Qatari-French strategic dialogue in various fields, including defence and security, economy and investment, energy, education, culture and scientific research, climate change and environment, and sports, in testimony to the close strategic partnership between the two countries. During the round, the two sides reiterated the need for a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Ukraine and respect for international law and international humanitarian law during this crisis, in addition to the congruence of views on international files and other regional issues.
Qatar has various agreements with France in all fields, including economic, political, cultural, scientific, academic, technological, and military agreements. The Qatari-French economic relations are robust and distinguished both commercially and financially. Commercial and economic French delegations regularly visit Doha to meet with their counterparts in the governmental and private sectors in Qatar and to review prospects for commercial, economic, and industrial co-operation, and opportunities for joint investment.
The French government grants various privileges to attract major international companies. Around 28,000 foreign companies are investing in France, providing 2mn job opportunities, and contributing 30% to France’s exports. France’s 2030 plan relies on technology, healthcare, and climate by adopting environmentally friendly electric cars and other innovative technology sectors.
France is one of the most strategic partners for Qatar as the number of French companies operating in Qatar reached 418 companies, including 120 companies with 100% French ownership, 290 companies in partnership with the Qatari side, eight companies licensed by Qatar Financial Centre, and three representative offices of France.
According to the Planning and Statistics Authority (PSA), the intra-trade between Qatar and France in 2021 reached more than QR6.3bn, including QR2.85bn imports of aircraft equipment, clothes and textiles, perfumes, and agriculture products, while Qatar’s exports to France reached around QR3.5bn of mostly gas and energy products.
There are also long-term projects between QatarEnergy and the French TotalEnergies, as well as several other projects, such as water desalination. In June 2022, QatarEnergy and TotalEnergies signed a partnership agreement for the North Field East (NFE) expansion project, the single largest project in the history of LNG industry. This step came at the end of a competitive process that began in 2019 to select QatarEnergy’s international partners in the expansion project, which will raise Qatar’s LNG production capacity from 77mn tonnes per year to 110mn tonnes.
France is seen as one of the most favourite foreign investment destinations for Qatari investors, and Qatari investments in France are about $30bn, including private investments that reach $10bn. A bilateral investment fund was established in 2013 with 300mn euros as a partnership between Caisse des Depots et Consignations and Qatar Investment Authority.
On the other hand, France is making a lot of investments in Qatar in the field of gas and oil, in addition to its investments in infrastructure, as well as the exchange in the economic, trade, aviation, and military and security fields.
Co-operation in security and defence fields represents a pillar of the bilateral relations between Qatar and France as Qatar purchased several French Rafale aircraft, which enhances the close relations between Qatar and France. The two sides also organise regular military exercises and manoeuvres.
Add to all of the above, the two countries have close relations in the education field, as some of the major French schools and institutions opened branches in Qatar, as Qatar has become a member of the International Organisation of La Francophonie since October 2014, and has more than 200,000 French language speakers. Qatar also sends many of its students to study in French universities. HEC Paris in Qatar celebrated in 2022 the tenth anniversary of its opening in Doha with more than 720 graduates since 2010.
France is one of the founding member states of the European Union (EU), the largest in terms of area among the EU countries, the second country in terms of economy, and the biggest EU market with a population of 65mn. France is the world’s first tourist destination, with more than 80mn tourists a year, and the seventh strongest economy in the world behind the United States, China, Japan, Germany, India, and UK according to International Monetary Fund statistics, thanks to its gross domestic production (GDP) that reached 2,762bn euro in 2019.
France provides several advantages to foreign enterprises and investors, and it has joined the list of the top five countries in terms of attracting the most important international investors in 2018. France is present in all oceans, thanks to its overseas provinces.