* 2019 registered the best figures in the bilateral trade between Qatar and Spain
More than 170 Spanish entrepreneurs are keen to stay in Qatar as reliable partners for local companies, further strengthening the commercial and economic ties between the two countries, Spanish ambassador Belen Alfaro has said.
“As a formal recognition for the prominent job that Spanish companies are doing in Qatar, since February 2019, the Spanish Secretary of State for Trade has awarded our businessmen in Doha with the official title of the Chamber of Commerce of Spain to Qatar,” the envoy said as Spain marks its National Day on October 12.
The role of the Chamber is key for creating spill-over effects into the Qatari market, according to Alfaro.
She described Spanish business performance in the country as “robust, deep and wide” with many companies engaging in various sectors such as construction, architecture, food and beverage, facility management, consultancy services, healthcare sector, fashion retail, energy and water, sport business or IT sector, among others.
Spanish professional skills, quality of the products and competitiveness are being transferred to the local business environment through a close and tied collaboration, Alfaro said.
The envoy added that the institutional support focused on promoting Qatar as a "durable destination" for the Spanish investment and "on fostering our exports to Qatar is bearing fruit."
Last figures show a consolidating path to growth in bilateral trade.
She noted that 2019 registered the best figures in the bilateral trade between Qatar and Spain, with merchandise and services flows rising by 7%, up to €1.3bn.
“This is the result of the sound performance of some exports from Spain, but also of the diligence of the gas exports from Qatar, reaching the 2nd position as natural gas strategic provider for Spain during 2019, with 12% of the total share,” Alfaro said.
“Spanish exports to Qatar are well diversified. We find four main domains that gather the core of our exports to Qatar. As Inditex is distributing here through its main brands such as Zara, Pull&Bear, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Stradivarius, Oysho, Zara Home and Uterque, the clothing sector is one of the most important elements in our exports to Qatar (12% of the total export to Qatar),” she pointed out.
The envoy noted that mechanical appliance and machines related to construction represent the 9% of Spanish exports to Qatar while Spanish articles of iron and steel and furniture and marbles are also well known in Doha.
In the food sector, she said Spanish products in the retail market are broadly present as all supermarkets in Qatar distribute Spanish perishable food, from vegetables to fruit.
“Durable products such as frozen meat or vegetables are available in retailers as well. We are now to introduce high preserve fish into the market aimed not only to the final consumer, but also to the Horeca channel,” she said. “Qatari exports to Spain are fully concentrated in LNG.”
About enhancing small and medium enterprise collaboration, Alfaro cited the Tasmu programme as a gateway for Spanish IT SMEs to Qatar.
“Possibilities of business matching in digitalisation, smart cities, innovation labs and as an incubation centre for Spanish companies are the main goals that our businessmen are looking for through the Tasmu platform. Many Spanish SMEs are interested in the use cases in process under the guideline of the Ministry of Transport and Communications of Qatar,” she said.
The envoy added that their Public Technological Centre in Spain, CDTI, held meetings in the country with different institutions to launch channels of bilateral collaboration in financing together IT projects in Qatar.
“Spanish institutions particularly support SMEs through public financing credits from ICO (Official Credit Institute), especially those aimed at increasing their international expansion,” she said.
In addition, she said Spain is an attractive destination for investments since it is the natural gateway to Europe, the Mediterranean and Latin-America.
The envoy noted that Spain is the first European investor in Latin America and the second in the world after the US. These ties to the Latino world offer Qatar a trustable partner to open the door for new markets investment.
“Our business in the field of telecommunications, financial and insurance sectors, energy, tourism and infrastructure are well-known, making our companies attractive for co-operation around the world,” she said.
“Regarding Qatari investments, equity in most profitable Spanish companies, real estate sector, airlines, sport clubs or hospitality are at the top of the Qatari financial portfolio,” Alfaro said.
“Moreover, the investment appetite for the Spanish market has been relaunched since the Coronavirus took place, offering financial opportunities in equities of companies with high scores in profitability rates, but with temporary cash flow disorders. These turbulent times test our bilateral investment relation, adding value to the commitment of both countries to forge long-term fraternal links in the business arena,” she said.
However, Alfaro also said that 2020 is being an atypical year for any country’s trade relations. In the case of Spain, it is registering a reasonable decrease in consumer products exports to Qatar, particularly clothing and furniture due to the closure of the shops and malls.
On the positive side, she pointed out that they are experiencing the highest export peak in vegetables, fruits and meat to Qatar.