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Tribune News Network
Qatar-Chinese trade jumped 27 percent to $13.5 billion in 2018, accounting for 11.7 percent of Qatar’s total trade volume, Minister of Commerce and Industry HE Ali bin Ahmed al Kuwari, has said.
Speaking at the Qatar-China Business Forum organised by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI), in Beijing on Thursday, Kuwari said that more than 14 fully owned Chinese companies are currently operating in Qatar, in addition to 181 joint Qatari-Chinese firms.
China ranks as Qatar’s third-largest trading partner, he added.
Kuwari said China represents an attractive destination for Qatari investments in the fields of shipbuilding, manufacturing, petrochemicals, technology, hospitality, tourism and financial services among other vital industries.
Touching on investment incentives offered by Qatar to Chinese investors, the minister said Qatar allows foreign investors 100 percent ownership across various sectors and industries.
He noted that Qatar has also been keen on protecting intellectual property rights and guaranteeing investors the freedom to transfer capital from and to the country, in addition to developing an advanced network of free zones and logistics and industrial areas in line with the highest international standards.
“These facilities have positioned Qatar as an attractive destination for foreign direct investment, which increased by 4 percent ($7.8 billion) to $186 billion for the first quarter of 2018, up from $178 billion at the end of 2017.”
Qatar’s gross domestic product (GDP) rose to $222 billion in 2017 from $218 billion in 2016, growing at an annual rate of 1.6 percent, he said.
Kuwari said Qatar’s foreign trade also witnessed remarkable growth in 2018, as exports increased by 25 percent, while the trade balance hit a surplus of 52.5 billion dollars, up 40 percent compared to 2017.
The forum will provide an opportunity to establish practical mechanisms to promote joint cooperation, bolster bilateral investment and trade, and establish strategic joint investments between Qatari and Chinese businessmen, he said.
The forum was attended by Qatar Chamber Chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim bin Mohammed al Thani, and Sheikh Nawaf bin Nasser al Thani, board member of the Qatari Businessmen Association.
Sheikh Nawaf said the forum marks a new chapter in the history of close Qatari-Chinese relations, and presents an opportunity to promote trade and investment in various fields and productive and service sectors.
Qatar is the second largest supplier of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to China, he noted, adding that Qatar is also home to numerous Chinese companies in the engineering, consulting, contracting, information technology, trade and services sectors.
He called upon Chinese investors to take advantage of the promising opportunities and favorable economic environment that Qatar offers in various sectors, in line with its highly successful economic diversification strategy.
The minister attended the signing ceremony of three memoranda of understanding (MoU). The first MoU was between Qatar’s Ministry of Interior and Chinese corporation Huawei, while Qatar Free Zones Authority signed two MoUs with China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) and the Administration of Xiamen Area of China (Fujian) Pilot Free Trade Zone (Xiamen-FTZ).
Kuwari also attended the signing of a partnership agreement to purchase concrete panel machines between Fikri Group and Hongji Group of China.
The MoU are expected to play an important role in enhancing trade and investment relations and deepening cooperation between the private sector in both countries, in addition to contributing to the development of mechanisms to promote joint investment projects.
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