Qatar’s capital flows to Spain stood at €677mn in 2016, according to Spanish ambassador Ignacio Escobar, who stressed that “there is still room” to promote bilateral investments between the two countries.
“In 2016, capital flows to Spain rose sharply up to €677mn as a consequence of the capital increase of Qatar Airways in its share in IAG, the Spanish-British airlines,” Escobar said in a statement to Gulf Times.
“Very well-known Spanish firms, such as El Corte Inglés-retail, Iberdrola-energy, Prisa Group-media, Tarragona Marina, Colonial-real estate or Barcelona OneOcean Port Vell, Villamagna Hotel Madrid, W Hotel Barcelona, have an important Qatari equity stake.”
The ambassador said Qatar’s investment stock in Spain stood at €90mn in 2015. Gross investments in Spain, he noted, are focused on state firms, mall companies, food sector, air transport, and energy sector.
Escobar said Spain’s exports to Qatar have been “steadily increasing” in the last two years, in particular in the agro food sector, which saw a 25% increase in 2015, 26% in 2016, and 43% from January to September 2017.
“The exports of Spain to Qatar have set new records in recent years thanks to the excellent price-quality ratio of Spanish products.
“The blockade of Qatar is an opportunity for both countries. Spanish products are now imported to Qatar directly from the source, avoiding extra fees from middlemen, thus increasing profits for local businessmen. Many Qatari businessmen and traders are now discovering the quality and diversity of many Spanish products,” he emphasised.
While bilateral trade between Qatar and Spain fell by 17% to €854mn in 2016, Escobar maintained that trade relations of both countries “are very positive.”
Escobar said imports from Qatar dropped by 33% to €512mn in 2016, but witnessed a 33% increase from January to August 2017 to reach €488m. Imports are strongly concentrated in the fuels segment, accounting for 87% of Spain’s total purchases, with the plastic sector accounting for the remaining 13%, he said.
“Spanish exports to Qatar have moved around €200mn in recent years, with a step by step increasing trend up to €342mn in 2016, while our imports, which are much larger, around €1bn on average, continue decreasing up to €512mn in 2016.
“Part of the reduction in exports from Qatar to Spain can be explained by the lower price of gas and oil products and derivatives, so it does not mean that there has been a reduction in the volume of imports, but a reduction of the value of such goods,” he stressed.
He added that exports from Spain grew by 25% to reach €342mn in 2016, while exports from January to August 2017 increased by 18.5% to reach €262mn. Spanish exports in 2016 comprise of mechanical appliances (14% of Spain’s total sales); furniture, chairs, and lamps (12%); clothing (12%); electrical materials and equipment (9%); and iron and steel smelting (7%).
Escobar said Spanish firms “are very interested” in Qatar’s development, particularly in main sectors like construction, clothing, research and development (R&D), railways, metro, energy, and the health system, among others.
“There is still enough room for investment in other sectors in which Spanish firms are very competitive, such as in green houses, health services, smart cities, and the food sector, or technology related with sport,” he said.
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