Monopoly of car dealers ends

Cars are expected to become cheaper in Qatar as the government yesterday clarified that automobile dealers with exclusive import rights for foreign brands do not enjoy monopoly any more.

Any dealer with a valid import licence can now import vehicles for sale in the local market even if there are exclusive local agencies for those vehicles.

The Ministry of Economy and Commerce said that exclusive agencies could, however, continue to bring vehicles directly from the manufacturers for sale, as they have been doing.

But other dealers who are non-agents and have relevant and valid import licences will also be allowed to import those brands of automobiles from other sources, such as dealers in other countries.

There is no restriction on dealers importing cars of any brand provided they have the import licence and their names appear in the import register, said the ministry.

Even though foreign brands, including cars, have their local distribution agents, the Minister of Economy and Commerce will soon lay down conditions for the import of these items by non-agents.

“Non-agents have the right to import the same brands from overseas, whether from dealers in other countries or some other sources, except directly from the manufacturer,” the ministry said in a statement.

Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported that the ministry issued the above statement to “end the confusion regarding automobile import and the rights of the exclusive agents”.

The statement hinted that Qatar is a free market economy where the consumer is king and where monopolistic business practices would not be allowed any more.

Fair competition and supply and demand determining the prices of automobiles and other foreign brands will benefit the buyer by ensuring fair pricing.

According to the ministry, Law No. 8 of 2002 paved the way for non-agents to import commodities allocated for agents. “We will be closely monitoring the market, particularly the car dealers,” it said.

The ministry said that the law, however, makes it mandatory for automobile distributors, whether agents or non-agents, to provide warranty, specify the nature of warranty and declare the specifications.

Those who fail to comply with the regulations will be liable to punishment under the provisions of the Consumer Protection Law (No. 8 of 2008).

To make sure that Law No. 8 of 2002 is effectively implemented, the ministry said it will launch an intensive inspection campaign to check if the licensed agents are complying with its provisions and displaying cars’ specifications, providing warranties and meeting other conditions.

A car buyer must now sign a declaration saying that he is satisfied as he has been told everything about the car’s specifications, warranty and servicing, etc., the ministry said in its statement.