By Peter Alagos/Business Reporter
Foreign-Trade Zones (FTZs) could complement the mandate of special economic zones under Manateq and other free zones here in attracting more international companies into Qatar, an entrepreneur has said.
An FTZ, according to the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), “are secure areas under CBP supervision that are generally considered outside CBP territory upon activation. Located in or near CBP ports of entry, they are the United States’ version of what are known internationally as free-trade zones.”
The CBP added: “Foreign and domestic merchandise may be moved into zones for operations, not otherwise prohibited by law, including storage, exhibition, assembly, manufacturing, and processing. All zone activity is subject to public interest review. Foreign-trade zone sites are subject to the laws and regulations of the US, as well as those of the states and communities in which they are located.”
“It would be an interesting combination,” Farhan al-Sayed told Gulf Times, citing entities like the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) and the Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP), which provide various benefits to international firms such as 100% foreign company ownership.
In 2011, the government established Manateq, which will operate three special economic zones, Ras Bufontas, Um Alhoul, and Al Karaana, to facilitate private sector growth and promote manufacturing in downstream heavy and light industries.
This January, Manateq announced companies could start making inquiries on its website. The company is also waiting for HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani to pass a law that would grant 100% ownership for international companies in Manateq special economic zones.
According to al-Sayed, Lusail City “could have been an ideal location for an FTZ in Qatar.” He noted that an FTZ in Lusail could attract major global companies, “enhancing development projects” in surrounding areas like The Pearl-Qatar, which according to him, is expected to accommodate around 60,000 residents.
Aside from enhancing the country’s attractiveness to foreign companies, al-Sayed said an FTZ in Lusail “will create a positive impact on the local real estate market,” citing the potential development of other properties in the northern parts of Qatar like Al Khor.
“Location is very important and strategic. Lusail is connected to our central business district in West Bay and to The Pearl. Once Lusail is fully-developed, further growth could extend to adjacent areas like Al Khor, especially if more zones are created there.
“The influx of more foreign companies into these areas means more expatriate communities, which could lead to the development of the northern parts of Qatar,” he said.
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