By Peter Alagos/Business Reporter
The Swiss Business Council Qatar has expressed interest in supporting innovative Qatari entrepreneurs, particularly those specialising in the field of solar technology, an official has told Gulf Times.
Switzerland is one of the front-runners on solar energy and technologies such as solar-powered aircraft, according to Dr Fariborz Samadian, president of the Swiss Business Council Qatar.
“I can see young Qatari entrepreneurs concentrating on solar energy. This trend could be further explored and developed with the support our young Swiss entrepreneurs through the initiative of the Swiss Business Council Qatar,” Samadian said in an interview.
He said the Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE) has an office in the Swiss embassy in Doha, and is concentrating on enhancing business relations between Qatar and Switzerland’s small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
“SMEs make up 80% of Switzerland’s economy, and this proves and ensures the diversity, flexibility, and responsiveness to the demand for products and services, which is necessary in today’s globalised world economy - without counting its contribution in terms of vocational training,” he explained.
Aside from a range of Swiss products available in the local market, Samadian said there are more than 20 Swiss companies operating in Qatar in the automation and power, aircraft, cement, construction, pharmaceuticals, banking, watch and jewelleries, events, law firms, insurance, medical, and hospitality sectors.
He said other industries in the Swiss manufacturing sector could pour investments into Qatar once the special economic zones under Manateq are operational.
“Manufacturing remains as the key driver of Switzerland’s high-tech economy, and consists largely of the production of specialist chemicals, health and pharmaceutical goods, scientific and precision measuring instruments, and musical instruments. The largest exported goods are chemicals (34%), machines and electronics (20.9%), and precision instruments and watches (16.9%),” Samadian said.
“Once the economic zones are open, we believe many Swiss SME companies will be interested, especially in finance, precision industries, education, packaging, chemical and pharmaceutical industries.”
Samadian said the Swiss Business Council Qatar, in co-operation with its Qatar-based counterparts from Austria, Belgium and Germany, will be hosting a forum entitled “Special Economic Zones in Qatar” on February 29 at the Grand Hyatt Doha to orient foreign companies on Manateq’s operations.
“The aim of our Swiss Business Council Qatar is to promote business opportunities from and for Switzerland. We have contacted many companies in Switzerland to attract them to bring their companies and expertise to Qatar, but many of them are asking if they can have 100% ownership of their companies. In this forum, we want to inform everyone about the possibilities and answer all of their questions,” he said, adding that officials from Manateq will deliver a presentation during the event.
In attracting more foreign direct investments (FDIs) to Qatar, he said Manateq’s special economic zones “can significantly reduce costs from customs duties, taxes and tariffs; improve global market competitiveness; and minimise bureaucratic regulations.”
“All of these advantages are interesting for FDIs. From large manufacturers to individuals, any size importer or exporter can take advantage of these economic zones. However, many companies are unaware of the sizeable cost savings and other benefits they can achieve by taking advantage of the economic zone programme,” he said.
He noted that the recently-approved draft law on special economic zones will encourage more Swiss companies to pour investments into Qatar.
“According to the draft law, all types of businesses will be allowed - from proprietorships or partnership firms or any other types of companies or business entities. These possibilities will immensely support Qatar's position as a major commercial hub in the GCC region.
“It will also be a rapid way to diversify the economy away from oil and gas. There will be many possibilities for Swiss SMEs to get involved in several businesses such as food, pharmaceuticals, medicine, finance and education,” he added.
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