The Assistant Undersecretary for Industry Affairs at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) Mohamed Hassan al-Malki said that during the past three years, the State of Qatar has made a comprehensive leap in the industrial sector, where the volume of investments exceeded QR262bn, which contributed to the state’s ability to face challenges, maintain the stability of the local market and boost exports.
Al-Malki said in an interview with Qatar News Agency that the past three years have posed a real challenge to both extractive and manufacturing aspects of the industrial sector, which has succeeded greatly in consolidating its pillars and establishing its bases to play its central role in the economic growth of the state.
He said that the state has dealt intelligently with the unjust blockade imposed on it since mid-2017, and managed to turn this crisis into an opportunity to accelerate its plans in the development of the industrial sector and maintaining economic growth.
The state has dealt intelligently with this situation, addressed weaknesses in the industrial sector and turned them into strengths, which has led to the success of this sector in covering many of the market needs of industrial products, especially food and pharmaceutical products, which have become competitive with those in the region and the world, he added.
Al-Malki pointed out that the volume of investments in the industrial sector has now reached QR262bn, up from QR255bn in 2017, a growth rate of 3% over three years. “Investment growth in the industrial sector continues, and we have a clear strategy for the coming years covering a number of vital sectors, reinforced by important regulatory and legislative reforms in the business environment,” he added.
He said that the number increased to 893 factories in the current year from 765 factories in 2017, an increase of approximately 17%, he said adding “Focus over the past three years has been on the food industries, which has made a major leap and contributed to securing the market needs from the necessary goods.
On the industrial sectors, he explained that the construction and transport industries sector tops list due to its association with 2022 World Cup projects, with 249 factories (27.9% of the total factories in the country), followed by the chemical and petrochemical industries, with 231 industrial establishments assisted by the abundance of raw materials (25.9% of the total number of factories). He said that the cement and building materials sector, and due to the urbanisation witnessed by the state, ranks third with 178 factories, accounting for nearly 20% of the total number of factories, then the food and beverage industry sectors, which has 80 factories, accounting for 9% of the total number of factories in manufacturing industries.
Al-Malki attributed the growth in the industrial sector during the past years to improving many investment laws and increasing the facilities provided to investors, in addition to enhancing private sector’s infrastructure, and addressing many of the challenges facing the local and foreign investor, besides other factors that strengthened the Industrial investment.
He pointed out that Ministry of Commerce and Industry offers a variety of facilities, including those related to providing industrial lands, customs exemptions on raw materials, equipment and machinery, a preference for electricity pricing, and providing integrated services and advanced infrastructure of electricity, water, sanitation and others.”There is a great direct support for the industrial investor, and last year we exempted factories from the rental fees for a full year and more than 400 factories benefited from them, whether in the industrial zone that belongs to the ministry or Manateq company’s Mesaieed industrial area,” he added.
On the smart industries sector, al-Malki stressed that this sector enjoys the ministry’s attention, and occupies a priority position in the industrial strategy. “We are working hard to facilitate procedures, technical requirements and executive regulations to support this sector directly, believing in its importance in building a knowledge-based economy that Qatar National Vision 2030 pursues.” he said.
He added that the MoCI adopted the manufacturing industries strategy 2018-2022, pointing that seven major sectors have been identified, namely: Petrochemicals; plastics; aluminium; medical and pharmaceutical food industries; new industries such as smart technology and 3D printing; and the challenging environments sector which includes greenhouses and water desalination technology.
He continued saying that “The manufacturing industries strategy aims to form a map for the next ten years until 2030, technology is an important part of this strategy, as the industry today depends mainly on it. Al-Malki also clarified that the technology sector is based on three basic pillars, which are research as the State of Qatar has relevant institutions such as Qatar Foundation and Qatar Science & Technology Park, while the second is financing for such projects and Qatar Development Bank is considered the direct partner and supporter of the industrial sector, and the third is the availability of the logistical environment and services.
He stressed that great attention is given to the technological industries sector, which enhances the successes and achieving the goals set in the industrial strategy. “We hope to reach our goals by 2030, especially with attention given by the government to this sector,” he said.
He added that strengthening and developing co-operation with countries and giant companies is important, pointing to the Free Zones Authority agreement with Google to launch a cloud services centre, to provide its services to all customers at home and around the world.
Regarding the growth of industrial exports, he said that manufacturing exports grew significantly to 11% of Qatar’s total exports.
He stressed that this growth is attributed to the quality of the Qatari product, its competitiveness, and the availability of transportation lines through Hamad Port with its huge potential, and Qatar Airways, which has expanded it significantly.
Speaking about the competitiveness of the Qatari products, al-Maliki said that they become a competitor to the foreign products, and able to compete globally, adding that Qatar has excellent experience in the pharmaceutical industry as well as the iron industries that competed in the Gulf even before the blockade. “Qatar have a strong infrastructure, world-class specifications, and affordable prices, which makes the Qatari products very competitive,” he said.
On the commodity supply with the spread of the coronavirus, al-Malki stressed that the situation is very reassuring and not a cause for concern at all.
The State has deep experience in dealing crises, he stressed adding that as the situation is very normal as the Ministry have a forward-looking vision and strategic plans to deal with any emergency.
He further explained that the Ministry, in co-operation with Qatar Development Bank, discussed with the industrialists the production of medical masks locally.
Adding that there were ready plans at this level, and that the Ministry is waiting for the production equipment to arrive within two weeks in preparation for the start of production within a month from now in two or three factories within the State.
In the same context, al-Maliki stressed that the consumer protection sector in the Ministry is closely monitoring the market and has co-operation with suppliers of these materials, and facilities provided to them at various levels to cover the market need of this product.
Regarding disinfectants and sterilisers, he pointed out that there are 4 to 5 local factories that work hard to fully cover the market.
Al-Maliki confirmed that the Ministry, in co-operation with the Qatar Development Bank, has a professional team working continuously to develop solutions to any problems related to raw materials that enter into such an industry to avoid any shortages in the coming period.
Al-Malki clarified that the Ministry, through the consumer protection sector, has put plans to face any future challenges, if any, with regard to the various consumables, emphasising that there is a strategic stockpile sufficient for months to come, especially as preparations are proceeding on consumer materials in preparation for the holy month of Ramadan.
The consumer protection sector has the experience and has its own mechanisms to ensure the flow of goods during this period, besides the preparations for the holy month of Ramadan, al-Malki said adding that “the blockade has given us immunity against crises and experience in dealing with them, so there is no reason to panic and fear”.
About the future vision of the pharmaceutical sector, al-Malki clarified that that the Ministry has a clear plan represented in increasing the number of factories with a rate of two factories a year until 2030. “This is a complicated sector that does not depend on the production only, rather there are other factors such as intellectual property rights for certain medication”, he added. He also indicated, that the strategy of the manufacturing industries offers more than one initiative, including taking over international companies and localising them, as well as buying global patents, trying to produce locally, in addition to the natural expansion of the industry itself.
“This is a complicated and uneasy sector and we are working with studied steps to reach the desired goals”, he said.
Responding to a question on the heavy industries, al-Malki indicated that this sector witnesses a continuous development in its different fields, as the investments value in metallic products sector, such as aluminium and iron in addition to steel, has reached to QR32bn accounting for 12% of the total industrial investments, while the value of the chemical and petrochemical industries, which includes gas liquefaction, has reached QR177bn until now, he also indicated.
About the industrial areas, he clarified that they aim to provide industrial zones with strong infrastructure, furnished with services and facilities such as water, electricity, gas, sanitation and others.
He further indicated that there are more than one industrial area; some specialised while others are general industrial areas.
Around the single-window initiative to facilitate procedures for investors, al-Malki said that its aim is to connect the competent authorities and institutions with investors, in order to be a single entity concerned with these procedures, in a way that contributes in creating an encouraging and attractive business environment for investments.
“There is a great work that is been done under the Single-Window initiative between all sectors, and investors do not need to visit the authorities to obtain approvals”, he also said.
Al-Malki went on saying “to facilitate for local investors and create an investment environment that is stimulating for small and medium enterprises’ owners and entrepreneurs, we launched in cooperation with Qatar Development Bank, the Land and Industrial Loan initiative”. Investors are able, through the single-window, to obtain the industrial licenses and lands in the small and medium industries areas in addition to complete the financial procedures through the same application of the industrial land directly, he clarified.
He stressed the importance of integration in the industrial sector to avoid over producing some products and scarcity in others, stressing the importance of feasibility studies for industrial projects before embarking on them to identify the product significance, competition and the status of the local and external market.
He pointed out that the Ministry is striving to organise industrial investment and to direct investors towards the most important sectors of the market. “This year, we developed a plan to publish 288 sectoral reports for specific products to give the investors a clear image of the market’s ability to carry new factories in certain sectors, and we will not stand up to the investor but we will alert him to the risks, and we cannot allocate the land if the risks are high.”
“We are trying to raise awareness that there are certain products which are sufficient, and the market must be studies well before starting any industrial project, but we will look if the investor has an exceptional service in the sector to see how far it could succeed”, he added.
He praised co-operation with the private sector to serve all of industrial and investment sectors, and the meetings are continuing between the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and this sector through Qatar Chamber.
“We welcome all their notes and initiatives and we have instructions to provide and facilitate all of the procedures for businessmen and resolve all problems they encounters”.
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