British companies based in Qatar are hoping for stability following economic uncertainties as a result of the Brexit vote, an official of the British Chamber of Commerce Qatar (BCCQ) has said.
The results, where 51.89% of voters chose to leave the European Union (EU) against 48.11% who wanted to stay, sent global markets tumbling, and weakening the British pound by as much as 11% and the Euro by as much as 4%, according to news reports.
“While there are some businesses in the UK that were very pleased with the results there are just as many businesses that are concerned. And the most important thing that businesses want is to achieve some stability and to resolve the situation that we have as soon as possible so they could get on with doing business,” Peter Cook told Gulf Times yesterday.
“Those are most important messages coming from the business community and they’re very much shared by chambers of commerce back in the UK and also the BCCQ,” he explained, adding that the UK has around 400 companies in Qatar.
Asked if the Brexit vote results would impact trade between Qatar and the UK, Cook said: “I hope that it would not but clearly, there’s a lot of work to be done to understand what the arrangements are, but nobody wants to have an impact; we’re going to work very hard to avoid any impact.
“We want to try and make sure that it is ‘business as normal’ and that is what I think everybody wants to try and achieve. But it is very early to say exactly how things would take shape so it’s hard to give a definite answer at this stage.”
Cook said total trade volume between Qatar and the UK stood at $4bn last year.
“Most of that was in goods and a little bit in services, about 75% in goods and 25% in services. On imports, we buy a lot from Qatar, mostly oil and gas but also some petrochemicals.” Asked if there are plans to meet with state officials and hold meetings with the British embassy, Cook said: “Undoubtedly, we will in the course of the coming days and weeks we would want to talk to the embassy and the British business community to try and understand what the people are thinking and feeling.
“And as an organisation of members, we would want to reflect the views of the membership as best we can. I can’t honestly predict what they would say and feel; I think everybody is going to take a little while to make up their minds as to what this means and once we have that chance to think that through and understand what kind of impact that it will have, obviously, we will then open discussions with the authorities both in Qatar and also with the embassy.”
He added: “Undoubtedly some businesses are very positive while some businesses are less so, and obviously we are more concerned on stability. Businesses want stability and they want to learn what is happening in the marketplace and that is the most important thing.
“And I appreciate that there is a very uncertain period just now with what just happened; we want to try and get back to stability and ‘happy trading’ and ‘happy business’ as quickly as possible, so that’s the most important message I think we have.”
Weak pound to push selling in Qatar forex houses
After Brexit, foreign exchange houses in Qatar are expecting more people to buy the British pound, which slid as much as 11% yesterday as voters in the UK opted to leave the European Union (EU), it is learnt.
But “there is not much excitement now,” according to foreign exchange manager Adarsh Shenava of Alzaman Exchange, who said people are still waiting for markets to stabilise.
In the run up to the referendum, international exchange houses and currency companies reported that people have started stocking up on the euro and dollar in anticipation of a weaker pound.
“There have been a lot of inquiries but people are waiting for the coming weeks for further weakening of the pound. Since today (Friday) is a holiday, people are still waiting for the after returns and they will wait for a week or so. There is not much excitement now,” Shenava told Gulf Times. He added: “There is still a lot of chances because it is a very volatile situation following the results of the Brexit vote. The reports have only come today and I think the British pound would come down slightly again.
“Since the Eid holidays are coming, I think there will be an increase in the purchase of the British pound.”
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