The Qatari Businessmen Association (QBA) organised a business meeting with Ranil Jayawardena, UK Minister of State for International Trade and Parliamentary Undersecretary, and his accompanying delegation.
The meeting was held in the presence of Simon Penny, Trade Commissioner for the Middle East, on the sidelines of the minister’s second visit to Doha to discuss ways to support bilateral trade between the two countries.
From the QBA, the meeting was headed by Hussain Alfardan, QBA First Deputy Chairman; Sheikh Dr Khalid bin Thani al-Thani, QBA Second Deputy Chairman and QBA board members, Sherida al-Kaabi, Sheikh Hamad bin Faisal al-Thani, Sheikh Nawaf bin Nasser al-Thani and Saud al-Mana, as well as Sarah Abdullah, QBA deputy general manager.
Welcoming the minister, Hussain Alfardan stressed the importance of official trade missions at this stage to restore the markets’ normal routine and promote investment and trade exchange, pointing to the depth of the historical relationship between Qatar and the UK.
Jayawardena expressed his government's aspiration for economic co-operation between the two countries, describing it as strategic, adding that it aims to build a sustainable partnership network with the Qatari private sector.
He also spoke on the need to work closely with major organisations such as the QBA to attract “the Qatari investor”, providing him with possible investment opportunities and facilitating his investments.
During the discussion, Sheikh Dr Khalid highlighted the importance of the UK market to Qatari investors and considering it one of the first investment and commercial destinations for Qatari businessmen, praising the legal infrastructure and ease of doing business in the UK.
He also talked about the role of the QBA in “introducing” the investment climate in Qatar in various platforms, as well as encouraging Qatari businessmen and companies to explore foreign markets.
He stressed the importance of trade delegations in bridging the distance between Qatari businessmen and their counterparts from all countries.
The UK side also highlighted the plans of the UK towards economic diversification in the sectors of technology, industry and residential complexes, in addition to the direction to develop economic cities outside London and provide a package of incentives for foreign investors.
QBA Members also discussed the situation of the UK, especially after leaving the European Union.
Jayawardena expressed his optimism about Britain's future after this step, saying, "The United Kingdom's exit from the European Union has created unlimited economic and trade prospects."
He said Qatari businessmen are the Kingdom's partners in the Gulf region, and that the UK is looking forward to co-operating with businessmen to attract more investment and increase business co-operation.
QBA members also discussed the procedures related to Covid-19, stressing the importance of facilitating the procedures for Qataris to enable them to follow up on their investments in the UK. Sheikh Hamad pointed out the importance of the UK to Qataris in general and businessmen in particular, as England is the first tourist destination for them, in addition to the selection of Qatari students to the UK.
Sheikh Hamad also directed his question to Jayawardena about any developments in the tax system in the Kingdom, especially after the EU imposed more taxes.
In this regard, Jayawardena confirmed the stability of the tax system and even considered it among the best in the European continent, adding the Kingdom's interest in developing aspects of co-operation with its partners, especially in the industrial and technological sector.
Penny added that the UK seeks to strengthen economic relations to match with the ambition and levels of development witnessed by both countries, and to open up prospects for co-operation in various aspects to include all sectors, especially industry.
At the end of the meeting, QBA members stressed their keenness to visit the UK soon when conditions prevail and support all efforts made to increase co-operation between the two countries. Sheikh Dr Khalid presented a souvenir to the UK Minister, and expressed the hope the Covid crisis would end soon and the business returned to normal.
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