Italy recorded a 4% growth in its food and beverage (F&B) exports to Qatar, which amounted to €34mn in the first nine months of 2020, an official of the Italian Trade Agency (ITA) said on Monday.
Overall trade exchange between Qatar and Italy during the same period was around €1.3bn, according to ITA commissioner Giosafat Rigano, who spoke to reporters during the launching of the ‘Week of Italian Cuisine in Qatar’, an ITA initiative that will run until November 29.
“If we are to analyse the trend of the overall exchange between Italy and Qatar, we can see that the more we are approaching the end of 2020 the impact of the (coronavirus) pandemic is less. And this is a very good and positive sign; it is encouraging for us to continue with our promotional campaigns both virtually and in person,” Rigano said.
Italian exports to Qatar, 60% of which comprise capital goods, and the remaining 40% are consumption goods, amounted to €670mn, while Qatar exported €630mn worth of oil and gas products to Italy, Rigano explained.
Italian ambassador Alessandro Prunas said: “Italy is an important partner to Qatar and we are always to assist in anything we can do to help this country in any field that is of interest to them. We enjoy incredibly strong bonds.”
“We are resuming these political and bilateral activities that were incredibly intense in the past years but this year we had to slow down because of Covid-19, and so we are always willing to respond and co-operate with our Qatari friends,” Prunas said.
According to Prunas, Qatar has made significant investments in Italy, particularly in the luxury and real estate sector. Qatar also “invested heavily” in Sardina and in Milan in the hotel business, the ambassador said.
“There is continuous interest from the Qatari side to expand to other areas as well. There is very keen interest in Qatari investors to come to Italy,” he said.
Aside from the F&B sector, Italian companies based in Qatar are mainly operating in the construction, infrastructure, and building materials sectors, among other areas, Rigano said.
“But we are confident that there are still opportunities to expand towards the services sector, and areas connected to the 2022 FIFA World Cup and beyond, as well as in finance and other sectors,” said Rigano, who added that the ITA is promoting Qatar’s free zones as part of efforts to support Italian companies looking to invest in Qatar.
The ambassador also underscored the partnership between LuLu and Coldiretti, Italy’s largest farmers' association.
“This partnership with Coldiretti has opened avenues for small Italian farmers to export their produce to Qatar. In a difficult time like the pandemic, having this opportunity for small farmers to have access to the Qatari market through an agreement with LuLu Hypermarket and Coldiretti is very important,” Prunas said.
Prunas also said once the pandemic is over the Italian embassy aims to launch plans to promote tourism and attract more Qataris to Italy.
“Tourism is a key industry in Italy, which accounts for almost 10% of Italy’s GDP. And the Qatari market is a very interesting market, so we will definitely pay special attention to Qatar,” Prunas said.
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