*McCollum lauds Qatar’s resiliency amid the blockade
Canada is looking to further enhance its relationship with Qatar by bringing in more public and private sector delegations to the country, according to Canada’s new ambassador, Stefanie McCollum.
“In addition to supporting the daily work of the embassy team, I will be actively advocating for the exchanges of high-level political visits between Qatar and Canada,” said McCollum, addressing the participants of a recently-held welcome reception hosted by the Canadian Business Council Qatar (CBCQ).
“I will push for these political level interactions because I believe that they will help pave the way for a stronger relationship between our two countries and for continued Canadian success in this market,” McCollum said.
McCollum, who was appointed as Canada’s ambassador to Qatar in September 2018, further said that one of the embassy’s key priorities is to grow commercial ties between both countries.
“We aim to do this by supporting our Canadian companies and creating the conditions to allow them to succeed and for others to join in this market. This involves us advocating on your behalf with key stakeholders, highlighting Canada’s capabilities and expertise at every opportunity and positioning Canada as a partner of choice,” she stressed.
McCollum, who spoke to reporters before the reception, pointed out that while trade volume between Qatar and Canada stood at C$174mn last year, “there is still room for growth” and for potential opportunities for investments and trade exchange.
“Although bilateral trade figures between Qatar and Canada are modest, there is renewed interest and enthusiasm on both sides to strengthen the commercial relationship in a variety of sectors,” she said.
“And I think Canada would welcome Qatar's investments; we are looking at a lot of investments in Canada like infrastructure bank, infrastructure hub, ‘Invest in Canada’, the announcement of super clusters, so they’re preparing themselves for this investment and we certainly welcome Qatar’s interest,” she noted.
McCollum said Canada prides itself for its contributions to the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the Qatar National Vision 2030, and its ongoing economic diversification agenda in sectors, such as infrastructure, oil and gas, health, and education.
“There are regular visits of Canadian companies, athletes, and academics to Qatar and a regular flow of Qatari officials, business people, tourists, and students back to Canada, and I hope this would increase,” she said citing the increase in Qatar Airways flights to Montreal.
McCollum also lauded Qatar’s resiliency amid the economic blockade imposed by the Arab quartet in June 2017.
She said: “Qatar has emerged stronger. It has diversified trade routes, established new trading partners, built domestic capabilities in strategic sectors, such as agriculture, and overcame unimaginable obstacles, while maintaining peace, security, and stability for its citizens and residents – a commendable feat by any measure.”
In a speech, CBCQ vice chairman Ahmed Hafez said: “The council was established earlier this year under the Qatar Financial Centre, which is a great platform to do business in Qatar. With the help of the embassy and the business and trade community in Qatar, the CBCQ will aim at promoting, facilitating, and enhancing business and professional relationships between Canada and Qatar,” Hafez said in a speech.
Speaking to Gulf Times before the reception, CBCQ treasurer Jeffrey Asseltine stressed that the opportunities offered by Qatar “are immense and far more open,” citing the council’s “soft skill role” in helping those coming to Qatar to explore, invest, and to be part of the country’s growing economy.