Doha Bank, the leading private commercial bank in Qatar, inaugurated its representative office in Toronto, Canada recently. The launch was followed by a knowledge sharing session hosted by Doha Bank on growing opportunities in the region.
The event was attended by Mr. John Rodney, Canadian Trade Commissioner for Qatar, Dr. R. Seetharaman, Group CEO of Doha Bank, and Mr. Tony Sequeira, Chief Representative for Doha Bank in Canada, among senior bankers, economists and business professionals from Canada and GCC.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Seetharaman said that the opening of the representative office in Toronto is a step in the right direction, and is in line with Doha Bank’s vision to expand internationally. “Doha Bank will play an active role to promote the bilateral trade between the GCC and Canada,” he said while discussing the increasing opportunities in the GCC during the seminar.
Speaking on the current scenario prevailing in the global economy, Dr. R. Seetharaman, Group CEO of Doha Bank said: “According to IMF's World Economic Outlook update, October 2013 global economy would grow at 2.9 per cent in 2013. Global growth is still weak and averaged only 2.5 per cent during the first half of 2013, which is about the same pace as in the second half of 2012. The advanced economies have recently gained some speed, while the emerging market economies have slowed. The impulse to global growth is expected to come mainly from the United States as fiscal consolidation eases and monetary conditions stay supportive. Emerging economies growth has been brought down to 4.5 per cent from earlier forecast of 5 per cent for 2013 with growth brought down in all emerging economies.”
Highlighting the bilateral trade developments between GCC and Canada, Dr. R. Seetharaman said: “GCC is considered a priority market for Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. GCC - Canada Bilateral trade has increased from CAD 4.8B in 2010 CAD 6.7B in 2012 on account of surge in trade across all GCC countries except Kuwait. The imports from GCC increased from CAD 2.3B in 2010 to CAD 3.3B in 2012 mainly from Saudi Arabia. The exports to GCC increased from CAD 2.5B in 2010 to CAD 3.4B in 2012 mainly to Saudi Arabia and UAE.”
“Saudi Arabia and Canada are partners in international education,” Dr. Seetharaman said, adding, “Saudi Arabia is one of the largest merchandise markets for Canada. Canada and Saudi Arabia work together on health care initiatives. Bombardier Transportation, subsidiary of Bombardier Inc. Canada has significant presence in Saudi Arabia Infrastructure segment. UAE‘s major exports to Canada are non-crude petroleum oils, jewellery and leguminous vegetables. In March 2013 UAE lifted visa requirements on Canadians. Canada concluded negotiations on Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (FIPA) with Bahrain in January 2010. In January 2010 Kuwait signed a MoU with Toronto’s University Health Network (UHN) to develop cancer treatment services at Kuwaiti hospitals, and another MoU with McGill University's medical center to develop cardiovascular research. Oman’s merchandise trade from Canada increased between 2010 and 2012 on account of increase in exports to Oman. GCC has projects more than $350bn in 2013 and Canadian companies can contribute to GCC’s infrastructure development.”
Dr. R. Seetharaman highlighted the bilateral developments between Qatar and Canada, saying: “Qatar’s merchandise trade with Canada has increased from CAD$ 188 M in 2010 to CAD$ 371M in 2012 on account of surge in imports by Canada from Qatar. Major imports from Qatar by Canada are mineral products and chemicals. Major exports to Qatar by Canada are plastics, Vehicles and machinery items. In Oct 2010 Qatar gas and Repsol energy, Canada had signed a sales and purchase agreement to supply liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Canada from Qatar gas 3 project. Qatar airways already flies Bombardier business jets. In April 2013 Qatar Petroleum International and the UK's Centrica have agreed to buy gas and oil assets from Suncor Energy for CAD 1bn. Qatar, GCC and Canada has synergistic opportunities.
Dr. R. Seetharaman gave his outlook on Canadian economy and the banking sector. He said: “Canadian economy is expected to grow by 1.6 per cent in 2013 according to IMF’s World Economic Outlook update Oct 2013. Canada’s 2nd quarter GDP of 2013 had slowed to 1.7 per cent as business investment and energy exports declined. Canadian banking sector has endured the financial crisis without suffering any major stumbles and keeping its dividends reliable for investors. For the sixth year in a row Canada’s banks have been ranked the worlds soundest by the World Economic Forum.The Bank of Canada had maintained low short-term interest rates to stimulate the economy. High consumer debt, weakness in the housing market and a slow recovery in the U.S. economy are the major challenges for Canadian banks.”