Qatar looks forward to expanding trade and investment co-operation: al-Kuwari

HE the Minister of Commerce and Industry Ali bin Ahmed al-Kuwari moderated a high-level roundtable discussion on Brazil’s macroeconomic and business environment at an event attended by Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro in Doha yesterday.

The roundtable, organised by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI), brought together a number of Qatari officials, including HE Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim al-Thani, chairman of the Qatari Businessmen Association; HE Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani, chairman of Qatar Chamber, HE Ahmed bin Mohamed al-Sayed, Minister of State and chairman of Qatar Free Zones Authority; Mansour Ibrahim al-Mahmoud, CEO of the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA); and Sheikh Ali bin al-Waleed al-Thani, CEO of the Investment Promotion Agency.

A number of senior Brazilian officials were also present, including Ernesto Araujo, Brazil’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Onyx Lorenzoni, Minister of State and Chief of Staff of the Presidency, along with senior executives from a number of Brazilian companies.

In his opening remarks, HE al-Kuwari praised 45 years of friendly Qatari-Brazilian relations, noting that bilateral discussions have gained momentum in recent years on various levels, driven by the exchange of official visits.

He noted that both sides must build on their potential by developing the appropriate environment to bolster bilateral trade, which amounted to about $575mn last year and $385mn in the first seven months of 2019, ranking Brazil as Qatar’s 28th largest trading partner.

HE the Minister said he hoped the roundtable discussions would pave the way for the expansion of bilateral trade and investment co-operation, in addition to prioritising investments in areas that add value to the economies of both countries and promoting co-operation between the Qatari and Brazilian private sectors and enabling businessmen to enter into successful strategic partnerships.

In this context, he emphasised the importance of activating bilateral agreements and signing new agreements on the promotion and protection of mutual investments, double taxation and the prevention of tax evasion, which will positively contribute to enhancing the confidence of Qatari and Brazilian investors.

These agreements would also contribute to strengthening co-operation, he said, calling on the Qatari-Brazilian Joint Committee, which represents an important platform for dialogue between the Qatari and Brazilian governments, to hold its first session.

On a related note, HE al-Kuwari praised over 24 Brazilian companies currently operating in Qatar for contributing to the national economy, noting that Qatar seeks to encourage private sector institutions and Brazilian investors to explore the promising investment opportunities provided by the State within the framework of implementing Qatar National Vision 2030 and hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

In his keynote address, he touched on the significant progress that Qatar has achieved in recent years in terms of implementing its major development plans, and cementing its position as one of the most developed economies in the region, driven by significant growth in non-oil sectors, which expanded by 3.2% in 2018.

Quoting the World Bank, he said Qatar’s economy is expected to grow by about 2% in 2019 and 3% in the medium term.

In parallel, Qatar’s foreign trade sector witnessed remarkable growth in 2018, with the trade balance recording a surplus of $52bn, an increase of 40% compared to 2017, while Qatari exports increased by 25% last year, he noted.

These positive indicators demonstrate the success of Qatar’s policies as outlined in the Second National Development Strategy 2018-2022, which focuses on providing support for the private sector given its role in enhancing the competitiveness and diversification of its national economy, HE the Minister said.

In this context, Qatar has introduced key amendments to business regulations and legislation that allow foreign investors up to 100% ownership in all economic and commercial activities, he noted.

In parallel, Qatar has sought to open its economy to the world by modernising its infrastructure to bolster trade with its various partners around the world with the support of Qatar Airways, which flies to more than 160 destinations worldwide, including Sao Paulo in Brazil, he said.

HE the Minister added that Qatar is seeking to further open its economy through the development of Hamad Port, which plays a pivotal role in linking the nation to major economies through direct shipping lines, cementing Qatar’s position as a transit hub with links to more than 40 ports in three continents.

He said Qatar also offers access to economic and logistics zones in strategic locations in close proximity to Hamad International Airport and Hamad Port, as well as a high-speed road network designed in line with the highest international standards.

HE al-Kuwari concluded his remarks by voicing hope that the roundtable would pave the way for successful investment partnerships that would serve Qatar and Brazil’s shared objectives and interests.

During the meeting, Brazilian officials delivered two presentations on the business environment in Brazil and the investment opportunities that investors and entrepreneurs may tap into, the MoCI said in a press statement.

Meanwhile, during an open discussion at the meeting, al-Mahmoud said QIA is active in Brazil, which is witnessing many improvements in the business environment.

He added that QIA has made a lot of investments in the banking sector, the stock market and the infrastructure sector, in addition to infrastructure for the electricity and water distribution sector, the official Qatar News Agency reported.

Al-Mahmoud explained that QIA is aware of a lot of investment opportunities in Brazil in the energy and highways sectors, expressing intent to increase investments in the South American country.

Agreements aim to cement Qatar-Brazil friendship

Based on the profound and distinguished relations between Qatar and Brazil and their desire to develop and promote the bilateral relations in all fields, President Jair Bolsonaro made an official visit to Qatar, yesterday.

A session of official talks was held at the Amiri Diwan between His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and President Bolsonaro amid a spirit of understanding and genuine desire to promote relations in all fields.

The two sides expressed their satisfaction at the excellent bilateral relations in the political, economic and investment fields as Qatar and Brazil celebrate the 45th anniversary of their diplomatic relations.

A number of agreements and memorandums of understanding were signed during Bolsonaro’s visit, namely:

a) Agreement on air services.

b) Agreement between the government of Qatar and Brazil for mutual exemption of entry visa for holders of ordinary passports.

c) Memorandum of understanding on co-operation in the field of health.

d) MoU on co-operation on major international events.

e) MoU in diplomatic training.

f) MoU between the ministries of defence of Qatar and Brazil on defence-related issues.

The two leaders decided to deepen bilateral relations and to strengthen economic co-operation and partnerships in fields such as infrastructure, agribusiness, energy, defence and science and technology.

They acknowledged that these agreements and those already existing would strengthen the framework for the consolidation of the friendship and co-operation between Qatar and Brazil.

In addition to bilateral issues, the two leaders had the opportunity to address topics of regional and global concern. They also agreed to provide further impetus to defence relations.

Recognising the high growth rate and existing potential of the Brazilian economy, the importance of contributing to this growth and acknowledging Qatar’s significant investment capacity, the two sides discussed various avenues and instruments for Qatari investments in Brazil.

During the visit, President Bolsonaro attended a high-level roundtable that provided updated information to the Qatari business leadership on Brazil’s positive macroeconomic scenario and new investment opportunities.

The two sides concurred on the assessment that the bilateral economic relationship offers a significant potential yet to be tapped.

Authorities from the trade and investment promotion as well as the business communities of both countries were encouraged to explore new common areas such as infrastructure, transportation, energy, agribusiness, defence and innovation.

Both leaders stressed the importance of bilateral investments in the promotion of a sustainable economic development and, in this regard, agreed to launch negotiations for an agreement to avoid double taxation and an agreement for protection and facilitation of investments.

The Qatari side thanked the Brazilian participation in the infrastructure development projects undertaken by Qatar in preparation for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

Both sides agreed to promote further partnerships between the private sectors of the two countries while exploring opportunities created through the current economic reforms in Brazil and through the development plans under Qatar National Vision 2030.

The two sides exchanged views on regional and international issues of mutual interest, including the situation in Latin America and in the Middle East.

Both parties expressed strong condemnation of the phenomenon of the international terrorism, urging the need for enhancing co-operation together to tackle this global threat which has endangered all nations and societies. They further confirmed their rejection of terrorism in all its forms and the need to disseminate the culture of peace.

President Bolsonaro expressed his gratitude and appreciation to High Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani for the warm reception and hospitality accorded to him and the accompanying delegation during his visit to Qatar. – QNA

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