*Bilateral trade at QR49.22bn in 2018, an increase of 27.08% compared to 2017
Qatar’s partnership with China serves as a model for its foreign relations, marking more than three decades of bilateral co-operation, as evidenced by the exchange of high-ranking official visits, said HE the Minister of Commerce and Industry Ali bin Ahmed al-Kuwari.
He was co-chairing the second session of the Qatari-Chinese Joint Committee for Economic, Trade, and Technical Co-operation in Doha on Sunday with Qian Keming, China’s Vice Minister of Commerce.
Growing bilateral trade and investments reflected the strength of Qatari-Chinese economic relations, the minister said.
Bilateral trade reached QR49.22bn in 2018, an increase of 27.08% compared to 2017. Today, China ranks as Qatar’s third-largest trading partner and accounts for 11.65% of its total trade volume.
Touching on Chinese investments in Qatar, al-Kuwari said more than 265 Chinese companies and representative offices have established a presence in Qatar, including 244 joint Qatari-Chinese firms and 20 representative offices for Chinese firms, in addition to one fully owned Chinese company, and one company licensed by the Qatar Financial Centre.
These companies operate in several vital economic sectors, such as trade, contracting, construction, information technology, and engineering consultancy.
Human capital also plays an important role in strengthening bilateral co-operation, with as many as 3,292 Chinese citizens currently living in Qatar.
On the other hand, China represents an attractive destination for Qatari investments in the fields of technology, hospitality, tourism, real estate, retail, and financial services, among other vital industries.
Qatar and China are also bound by several memorandums of understanding that play a key role in strengthening bilateral ties.
These include an agreement on the Promotion and Protection of Mutual Investments, and an Air Transport agreement, which paved the way for some 38 passenger and cargo flights linking Doha to most major Chinese cities.
These agreements enhance the prospects of strategic integration and provide a legal framework that will encourage the Qatari and Chinese private sectors to seek successful investment projects.
Al-Kuwari noted “today’s meeting comes amid mounting concerns voiced by international institutions over a 2019 global economic slowdown due to trade barriers, supply chain disruptions, and rising interest rates.
“This requires all parties to come together and join efforts to create new partnership opportunities, consolidate economic and investment alliances, and strengthen bilateral trade.”
The minister invited Chinese companies to take advantage of the “investment-friendly environment” that Qatar offers as one of the world’s fastest growing and most balanced economies.
Qatar ranked first among countries that achieved growth over the last 20 years, with an average annual growth rate of 10.5%.
Quoting the World Bank’s latest report, he said Qatar’s economy is expected to grow by 2% in 2019 compared to 1.4% in 2018, and 3% on the medium term, driven by higher growth in the services and construction sectors as Qatar implements projects within the framework of its National Vision 2030 and in preparation for 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Touching on Qatar’s investment environment, he said Chinese companies that choose to explore Qatari markets will benefit from a multitude of incentives to expand their businesses regionally, including Qatar’s strategic location between East and West, and investment laws that allow up to 100% ownership across various sectors, commercial activities, and the real estate market.
Qatar has been also keen on protecting Intellectual Property rights, and guaranteeing investors the freedom to transfer capital from and to the country, in addition to developing an advanced network of Free Zones, and logistics and industrial areas, that meet investors’ demands.
The two sides agreed to take the necessary steps to move forward with plans to strengthen trade and investment co-operation, which will bolster bilateral trade and facilitate the flow of goods, services and investments between the two countries.
At the conclusion of the session, al-Kuwari and Keming, signed the minutes of the meeting.
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