Since June 5, 2017, Qatar has grown more dynamic and open to relations external to the Gulf region, Italian ambassador Pasquale Salzano has said.
“In these years, new opportunities have been emerging for foreign investors, including Italian companies. Qatar is a vibrant and multi-faceted country with huge growth potential and business opportunities in many sectors,” the envoy told Gulf Times.
As the ambassador of Italy to Qatar, Salzano said he personally witnessed how bilateral co-operation has been extending to a wide range of fields, encompassing infrastructures, agriculture and food, sport, fashion, design, art and culture.
He also stressed that political dialogue between Qatar and Italy continues to grow, witnessed by the exchange of numerous visits of high-level delegations.
Such exchanges culminated in the visit to Qatar last April of the Italian Prime Minister, Professor Giuseppe Conte, and in the State visit of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in November 2018.
“What makes me particularly pleased is that – besides official institutional visits – also business-to-business and people-to-people contacts continue to grow,” Salzano said.
“Many Italians choose Doha as a destination for business, tourism and study. Many Qatari friends travel to Italy to seek business partnerships or simply enjoy the pleasure of Italian beautiful landscapes, art cities and cuisine,” he added.
According to Salzano, Qatari leadership also adopted rapid and effective measures to keep the market competitive and attractive for foreign investors, diversify trade and expand business opportunities.
He said a clear example of this approach is represented by the new legislation on foreign direct investments, as well as by the draft-law on the regulation of non-Qatari ownership.
“I consider particularly significant the reform which abolishes the exit permit for the majority of migrant workers, who are currently able to leave the country or change employer without authorisation of their ‘sponsor,’” the envoy pointed out.
“This law represents a strong achievement in the process led by Qatari authorities to implement an ambitious labour reform agenda in terms of protection of migrant workers and their rights,” he said.
“I am also very pleased of the renewed co-operation between the Qatar government and the International Labour Organisation, which opened its first office in Doha in 2018.”
On the bilateral side, Salzano described economic data as excellent and leave no room for interpretation.
Trade flows between Italy and Qatar continued to grow in 2018 and amounted to €2.6bn (+23,2%).
Italian exports to Doha grew tremendously in many sectors, including chemical and pharmaceuticals (+42,5%), automotive (+13,7%) and fashion (+16,6%). Among the EU countries, the Italian market remains the first destination for Qatari export.
“We expect these encouraging trends will continue also in 2019, as our countries are both committed and always ready to explore further opportunities of partnerships and new projects,” the envoy said.
About Qatar’s massive infrastructure programme, Salzano said the opening of the first line of the Doha Metro and Al Janoub stadium are just two of the most prominent projects completed this year.
“The 2022 FIFA World Cup represents a great opportunity for Qatar, as well as a recognition of the pivotal role that the country has played in the field of sport management,” he said.
Salzano added that Qatar’s facilities of unique design and feature are being developed in the capital and in the rest of the country, transforming the country an international hub for many sport disciplines.
“I am very impressed by the excellent work done so far and I am particularly pleased that some of the best Italian companies have been contributing to the construction of roads, metro lines and stadiums, implementing innovative technologies and sharing know-how and best practices, in line with the objectives outlined by the Qatar National Vision 2030,” he noted.
About the best solution to end the regional rift, Salzano said Italy continues to support all efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis in the region and encourages dialogue among the parties within the GCC.
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