The United Kingdom (UK) will continue to develop further its relationship with Qatar in all areas of co-operation, including trade and investment, as a result of the British exit (Brexit) decision, ambassador Ajay Sharma has said.
“We will continue to work on trade and investments; Qataris have invested over £30bn in the UK and want to see that grow in London and outside of London,” the envoy explained at a press conference at the British embassy in Doha yesterday.
He stressed that they also wanted to see more British businesses in the country taking part in Qatar’s “ambitious plans for the FIFA 2022 World Cup” and in Qatar’s National Vision 2030.
The UK has around 400 companies in Qatar and trade exchanges between the two countries totalled $4bn last year, according to the British Chamber of Commerce Qatar.
Qatar is the UK’s third largest export market in the Middle East and North Africa region after the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
Citing the speech of British Prime Minister David Cameron, ambassador Sharma stressed that the British economy is fundamentally strong – the fifth largest economy in the world at the moment – and still growing.
He expressed confidence that their partnership with Qatar and other countries in the world would continue to grow.
“The UK is still the UK that wants to see Qatari visitors, Qatari students, Qatari tourists, and Qatari investors and that has not changed,” the envoy noted.
Ambassador Sharma hoped that Qatari visitors would be able to take advantage of the latest visa waiver system – an improved version of the previous online service, which now makes it easier for Qataris to travel to different part of the UK.
“We want to see the number of Qatari visitors to the UK increase,” the envoy said, as he reiterated UK’s excellent relationship with Qatar.
“It is a relationship built on history, close contact between our people, and every Qatari has a connection with the UK, it is also a relationship built on shared objectives and mutual interests, and none of that will change as a result of the Brexit decision,” he stressed.
About trade relations with the EU, Sharma said the UK would continue to be a trading nation but it needed to work out what kind of arrangements it would have.
“I do not think people should think of this in a way that somehow, ‘oh the UK now suddenly lost out on the EU business’, the UK is part of Europe, it may not be part of the EU, but it will continue to have trading relationships with EU countries.”
According to Sharma, EU countries sell more goods to the UK, a bigger market of 65mn people.
“We are a bigger market for EU goods than we are an exporter of goods to the EU. It is a two-way relationship and people should not forget that,” he added.
“I would just like to reassure our Qatari friends about the strength of the British economy and the fact that we will continue to be an economy that trades with the rest of the world including with the Europe,” Sharma said. “We just need to negotiate what the terms will be.”
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