HE the Minister of Commerce and Industry Ali bin Ahmed al-Kuwari affirmed that the State of Qatar and the Republic of Italy have distinguished and close relations of friendship, which reflected positively on all levels of bilateral co-operation, especially in the trade sector.

HE the Minister pointed out that Italy is the eighth trade partner of the State of Qatar.

The Minister said, in a speech during the third session of the Italian-Arab Business Forum held in Milan, that the volume of trade exchange between the State of Qatar and the Republic of Italy increased by about 14% last year, reaching $3bn, compared to 2017.

The Minister added that the Qatari-Italian trade exchange represents 2.65% of the total foreign trade of the State of Qatar.

HE the Minister noted that the number of Italian companies operating in the country are about 250 companies, including 200 companies with Italian-Qatari joint capital and 50 companies with 100% Italian ownership.

HE the Minister of Commerce and Industry added that Italian companies play an important role in supporting the development plans and projects of the State, which is mainly based on the construction market, to diversify the activities of its companies working in this area, such as the manufacture of raw materials, in particular the production of Italian marble and construction machinery and equipment and information technology, trade, services and other vital sectors.

He said that Italian companies working in Qatar attach great importance to the field of renewable energy, which is of common interest between the two countries, especially in light of the State of Qatar's intention to establish reliance on clean and environmentally friendly energy in all its development projects, especially those in related to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

HE the Minister of Commerce and Industry said that the Republic of Italy is an excellent destination for Qatari investments that have entered into various sectors and economic activities, reflecting Qatar's keenness to use part of its resources to invest in the economies of strategic partners where there are promising investment opportunities.

The Minister added that the agreements and memorandums of understanding signed between the two countries play an important role in strengthening and consolidating bilateral relations in various fields, especially the economic and technical cooperation agreement and the agreement on the promotion and protection of mutual investments, which have contributed mainly to encouraging the private sectors of Qatar and Italy to establish many successful investment projects.

In reviewing the economic developments in the country, HE the Minister pointed out that the State of Qatar has for years set a clear national vision that aims to achieve by 2030, one of its objectives to diversify sources of income, which contributed to support all economic sectors, especially the private sector, through the implementation of a set of programmes and policies aimed at enhancing the contribution of this sector to the overall development process.

HE pointed out that the State of Qatar has taken the initiative to develop appropriate laws and administrative regulations that have facilitated the procedures of doing business in the country and provided an attractive environment for foreign direct investments.

In this context, HE the Minister pointed to the recently launched one-window initiative to facilitate the procedures of granting approvals and licences necessary for the establishment of business in the country, as well as the issuance and modernisation of laws governing the investment sector, which allows foreign investors the possibility of 100% ownership in various sectors and economic, commercial and real estate activities.

The Minister stressed the State of Qatar's keenness to establish an advanced network of free zones and logistics, and industrial units, which will meet all the needs of investors, pointing out that these efforts reflected positively on the macroeconomic of the state.

HE the Minister pointed out that the State of Qatar ranked first in the world in the index of countries achieving economic growth during the past 20 years, recording an average annual economic growth of 10.5%.

Minister also noted that the World Bank in its latest report expected that the Qatari economy will grow by about 3.4% by 2021, driven by higher growth in the services sector as the 2022 FIFA World Cup gets closer.

On the Arab-Italian relations, HE the Minister stressed that these relations are based on a long history of political, geographic and cultural ties, which contributed to the consolidation of co-operation and integration in various fields, especially at the level of trade, which rose to about $62bn, last year compared to $59bn a year earlier.

On the other hand, HE the Minister met separately on the sidelines of the Forum, Minister of Industry, Trade and Supply of Jordan Dr Tariq Hammouri; Italian Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Emanuela Claudia Del Re; president of the Joint Italian Arab Chamber of Commerce (JIACC) Cesare Trevisani; and president of the Arab Chamber of Commerce Mohamad Abdo Saeed; and the Vice-President of the Federation of Italian Industries (Assolombarda) Alessandro Spada.

During the meetings, they discussed aspects of joint co-operation, highlighting developments in the Qatari economy over the past years, reviewing investment opportunities available in all sectors, investment incentives and legislation approved by the State of Qatar, including the law regulating non-Qatari capital investment in economic activity, and initiatives launched to support the private sector, increase foreign direct investment and attract more companies to the Qatari market.

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