Minister of Commerce and Industry HE Ali bin Ahmed al Kuwari and China’s Vice-Minister of Commerce Qian Keming co-chaired the second session of the Qatari-Chinese Joint Committee for Economic, Trade, and Technical Cooperation, which was held in Doha on Sunday.
Discussions touched on the various aspects of cooperation in sectors of shared interest to both countries.
Kuwari said Qatar’s partnership with China serves as a model for its foreign relations, marking more than three decades of bilateral cooperation, as evidenced by the exchange of high-ranking official visits.
Growing bilateral trade and investments reflects the strength of Qatari-Chinese economic relations, the minister added, noting that bilateral trade reached QR49.22 billion in 2018, an increase of 27.08 percent compared to 2017.
“Today, China ranks as Qatar’s third-largest trading partner and accounts for 11.65% of its total trade volume,” he said.
On Chinese investments in Qatar, the minister said more than 265 Chinese companies and representative offices have established presence in Qatar, including 244 joint Qatari-Chinese firms and 20 representative offices for Chinese firms, in addition to one fully-owned Chinese company, and one company licensed by Qatar Financial Centre.
The minister said these companies operate in several vital economic sectors, such as trade, contracting, construction, information technology, and engineering consultancy.
Human capital, he added, also plays an important role in strengthening bilateral cooperation, with over 3292 Chinese citizens currently living in Qatar.
On the other hand, China represents an attractive destination for Qatari investments in the fields of technology, hospitality, tourism, real estate, retail, and financial services, among other vital industries, Kuwari said.
Qatar and China are also bound by several memorandums of understanding that play a key role in strengthening bilateral ties, he pointed out.
These include an agreement on the Promotion and Protection of Mutual Investments, and an Air Transport Agreement, which paved the way for more than 38 passenger and cargo flights linking Doha to most major Chinese cities, the minister added.
He explained that these agreements enhance the prospects of strategic integration and provide a legal framework that will encourage the Qatari and Chinese private sectors to seek successful investment projects.
“Today’s meeting comes amid mounting concerns voiced by international institutions over a 2019 global economic slowdown due to trade barriers, supply chain disruptions, and rising interest rates.
“This requires all parties to come together and join efforts to create new partnership opportunities, consolidate economic and investment alliances, and strengthen bilateral trade.” Kuwari invited Chinese companies to take advantage of the investment-friendly environment that Qatar offers as one of the world’s fastest-growing and most balanced economies.
In this context, the minister noted that Qatar ranked first among countries that achieved growth over the last 20 years, with an average annual growth rate of 10.5 percent.
Quoting the World Bank’s latest report, the minister said Qatar’s economy is expected to grow by 2 percent in 2019 compared to 1.4 percent in 2018, and 3 percent on the medium term.
The growth, he said, would be driven by higher growth in the services and construction sectors as Qatar implements projects within the framework of its National Vision 2030 and in preparation for 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Touching on Qatar’s investment environment, the minister said Chinese companies that choose to explore Qatari markets will benefit from a multitude of incentives to expand their businesses regionally, including Qatar’s strategic location between East and West, and investment laws that allow up to 100 percent ownership across various sectors, commercial activities, and the real estate market.
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