Qatar is currently developing two free zones spanning 35mn square metres, said HE the Minister of Economy and Commerce Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohamed al-Thani.
He noted investors can choose between operating their projects in free zones or directly accessing local markets.
“This will position Qatar as an ideal destination for foreign direct investment, the minister said addressing the Bulgaria-Qatar Economic Forum in Sofia on Thursday.
Qatar-Bulgaria bilateral trade had reached $24mn in 2017, he said.
He said Qatar has established four new logistics areas that have contributed to reducing the cost of warehousing and bolstering the supply chain.
The minister expressed his full confidence that Qatar's successful economic policies and balanced growth rates across all sectors have greatly contributed to enhancing investor confidence in the national economy.
"Qatar is today one of the most investment-friendly countries in the region thanks to its balanced policies and economic decisions, as well as its strategic position, which allows the country to become a trade hub for countries across the region and worldwide," Sheikh Ahmed said.
He said foreign companies looking to expand their business in Qatar can benefit from an advanced business environment. The government has allowed foreign investors up to 100% ownership in many sectors in Qatar, and is exempting invested foreign capital from income tax for up to 10 years for specific investment projects.
In addition, Qatar is offering exemptions from customs taxes and duties when importing equipment and raw materials, the minister said, noting that investors are free to repatriate their profits and transfer the ownership of companies.
The minister highlighted Qatar's global advanced rankings in the latest Global Competitiveness Index, and said the country ranks first in terms of safe business environment, second in terms of the impact of taxes on business, third in terms of the state’s procurement of advanced technology products, and fifth in terms of the availability of investment capital, scientists and engineers.
Dignitaries attending the Bulgaria-Qatar Economic Forum in Sofia.
On Qatar’s legislative environment, Sheikh Ahmed said the government is working on issuing a new public private partnership law that would coincide with the launch of a number of investment projects.
A law regulating the investment of non-Qatari capital in economic activity was recently issued. This significantly eases the registration of companies and opens the door for investments across all sectors.
Investing in Qatar is now much easier compared to other regional countries through the Invest in Qatar Center, which aims to help investors establish their projects and streamline business procedures.
Sheikh Ahmed highlighted the state-of-the-art infrastructure being provided to investors and efforts to enhance government spending on infrastructure projects to develop economic facilities in line with the highest international standards.
Doha’s Hamad International Airport is one of the biggest in the region, with passenger capacity of more than 30mn a year and connecting Qatar to more than 150 destinations across the world through Qatar Airways, which has been selected as the world’s best airline.
The new Hamad Port, located south of Doha, also reflects Qatar’s efforts to accelerate its development projects, the minister said.
“This port is one of the largest in the Middle East, accounting for 27% of regional trade, and can accommodate up to 7.5mn cargo containers annually. The port links Qatar with major economies around the world through direct commercial lines that have bolstered Qatar’s position as a hub for trade across the Middle East and the world,” the minister said.
The minister also invited Bulgarian and European companies to invest in Qatar and contribute to both countries’ efforts to achieve their economic objectives.
In a presentation, Stamen Yanev, executive director, Bulgarian Investment Agency, outlined the characteristics of the country’s business environment and industrial zones, while elaborating on investment and business opportunities as well as tourist sites.
The forum was also attended by Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim bin Mohamed al-Thani, chairman, Qatar Chamber; Tsvetan Simeonov, president, Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry; and Gabriela Kozareva, executive director, Bulgarian Agency for the Promotion of Small and Medium Enterprises.
The Qatari delegation also organised a workshop on potential joint ventures, and investment opportunities in the tourism and transport sectors, as well as challenges. It brought together Salem al-Kubaisi, chief corporate services officer, Katara Hospitality, and Ibrahim al-Mannai, executive director (consultant services), Qatar Development Bank.
In a second workshop, the participating Qatari delegation also shed light on the transport sector, FIFA World Cup 2022-related projects and cooperation opportunities in food security.
The session was attended by Fahad Rashid al-Kaabi, CEO, Manateq; Youssif al-Musleh, competition venues executive director, Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy; Abdulrahman al-Khayarin, CEO, Widam Food Company, and Salah al-Hammadi, deputy CEO, Al Meera Consumer Goods Company.