By Peter Alagos/Business Reporter
Qatari private sector leaders and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations officials are looking towards forging more joint co-operation projects to spur economic development in Qatar and Asean member countries.
Qatar Chamber vice chairman Mohamed bin Towar al-Kuwari said Qatar is keen on establishing “strong economic relationships” with Asean member countries “at all levels and across all sectors.”
“In its capacity as the largest export of LNG (liquefied natural gas), Qatar is very keen to promote its relationship with Asean not only in the energy sector but across all economic sectors as the percentage of gas exported to Asean countries amounts to 50% of Qatar’s total exports. We expect this to grow due to increasing demand from Asean members,” al-Kuwari said in a recent business forum at the QC.
According to al-Kuwari, Qatari businessmen are “willing to explore” business opportunities in Asean markets, which he said are “expanding and developing,” particularly in the construction, energy, and tourism sectors.
“I am encouraging the business community in Qatar and Asean to exert effort in promoting and developing diplomatic and economic ties to open more investment opportunities in the private sector level between our countries.
“Also, I am inviting companies in Asia to explore the Qatari market and establish effective partnerships with Qatari business houses and to explore available investment opportunities and utilise Qatar’s attractive investment environment,” he said. Al-Kuwari noted that the QC “strongly encourages” Asean countries to enter the Qatari market and participate in major projects, including infrastructure projects in preparation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Singapore ambassador Wong Kwok Pun, who is the chairman of the Asean Community in Doha (ACD), also joined al-Kuwari in his call for more joint co-operation projects between Qatar and Asean.
Established in 1967, Pun said Asean started with seven nations and has grown to 10 member countries today.
He said only seven out of the 10 Asean countries have embassies in Qatar: Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand. The other three are Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos.
But the ambassador noted that “Asean has become stronger and more united,” and said: “I believe we offer many business opportunities to Qatari businessmen.”
Aside from plans to integrate Asean with the rest of the world by transforming its 622mn population into one single market and production base, Pun said Asean aims to facilitate the flow of investments, capital, and skilled labour.
He said Asean also plans to transform itself into a highly-competitive economic region by harmonising laws and providing a pro-business environment.
The ambassador added that Asean aims focus on “more equitable economic development by promoting less developed Asean countries such as Laos and Cambodia” through human capital or human resource development programmes to generate jobs, talent, and skills to attract foreign direct investments.
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