Total trade between Qatar and the UK rose to reach £7bn in 2020 despite restrictions and various challenges related to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to British ambassador Jonathan Wilks.
“This increase in trade volume between both countries are in varying sectors, such as agricultural produce and food products. This is a sign of the amount of interest and activity that the UK and Qatar have in developing trade, business, and investment relationships,” the ambassador told Gulf Times at a recent launch event.
Citing the recently-launched ‘British Food Festival’, which will run until May 25 at all LuLu stores across the country, Wilks said aside from celebrating the export of British food products to Qatar, the festival is also a chance for the UK to share some of its technology and partnerships to enable Qatar to build its food security.
Wilks lauded the hypermarket chain, saying LuLu’s sourcing offices in Birmingham have opened opportunities for suppliers across the UK to gain access to different markets in Qatar, as well as in the GCC region.
“We also want to help Qatar in its food security efforts. While we can import products, the UK can also help in terms of providing agriculture technology to allow Qatar to produce its own food stuffs,” Wilks explained.
He said, “We have British agriculture experts working in Qatar. We are also looking into the latest technologies to help Qatar use its resources to build its food security. This includes vertical agriculture, hydroponics, and all sorts of different projects.
“There’s a lot of interest in developing our relationship in this area, and we hope that after the pandemic, and we can start to travel a little bit more, we would be able to bring delegations in both directions and start some new projects,” Wilks further said.
He stressed that the UK is also keen to explore new technology and partnerships not only in agriculture but also in the fields of sports, e-commerce and fintech, health, and education, among other sectors.
He said, “e-commerce and fintech are already big areas for co-operation between the UK and Qatar, and that both countries are building on Qatar’s ambitions to become a fintech hub, which is a main sector in the UK. London is one of the main centres, and beyond London we are already developing centres in major cities.”