Qatar Minister of Commerce and Industry Ali bin Ahmed Al Kuwari. — VNS Photo Thu Giang
The Government of Qatar is implementing many strategies to establish new trade routes with foreign countries, including Việt Nam, to push up its development in every aspect. Qatar Minister of Commerce and Industry Ali bin Ahmed Al Kuwari speaks with Việt Nam News reporter Thu Giang about his country’s economic growth and the relationship with Việt Nam.
Can you tell us about the economic growth of Qatar?
Despite global challenges, Qatar has managed to pursue its journey of growth and development and cement its position as one of the strongest regional economies and among the most promising globally. According to the International Monetary Fund, Qatar’s real GDP is expected to grow 3.2 per cent in 2020 and 3 per cent in 2024.
These solid growth rates reflect the sound policies embraced by the country’s leadership to build a diversified and competitive knowledge-based economy.
In this context, Qatar has embraced balanced policies, channeling its hydrocarbon revenues into supporting various economic sectors and transforming national industries and trade sectors into active partners in achieving the objectives of the National development strategy 2018-22.
As a result, the contribution of Qatar’s non-oil sectors to GDP increased to 52 per cent in 2017. Qatar’s non-oil sector maintained its growth in the first half of 2018, increasing by over 5 per cent compared to the same period of 2017.
Qatar is also dedicating a great deal of importance to bolster its energy sector, with plans to increase its LNG production capacity from 77 million tons to 110 million tons by 2024.
By embracing these integrated and balanced policies, Qatar is expanding its economic base, bolstering investor confidence in the country and increasing the contribution of various sectors to the development of the national economy.
Last year, Việt Nam and Qatar celebrated the 25th anniversary of diplomatic. Can you elaborate on Qatari-Vietnamese bilateral trade relations?
In 2018, Qatar and Việt Nam traded goods worth approximately 1.62 billion Qatari Riyals, the equivalent of US$444 million, ranking Việt Nam as Qatar’s 31st trade partner.
The value of Qatari exports to Việt Nam amounted to approximately 682.9 million Qatari riyals, the equivalent of US$187 million, ranking Việt Nam as Qatar’s 24th export partner while imported goods were valued at QR 938 billion, the equivalent to US$257 million.
Qatar is also home to three jointly-owned Qatari-Vietnamese companies.
A corner of Qatar. In preparation for the 2022 World Cup and the implementation of the Qatar National Vision in 2030, Qatar has invested in the construction of many large infrastructure projects, which are important for the country’s economic development in the future, with an estimated total value of over US$200 billion. — VNS Photo Thu Giang
In which areas does the Qatari Government seek to cooperate with Việt Nam?
Qatar and Việt Nam are bound by several bilateral agreements including two agreements signed in 2009 on promoting and protecting mutual investments and avoiding double taxation as well as an economic, trade and technical cooperation agreement inked in 2007.
In 2012, an investment agreement was also signed between Qatar Petroleum and Petro Vietnam to develop Long Son Petrochemical Project in Việt Nam while a memorandum of understanding was signed between Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 2007.
Qatar seeks to build on these agreements to promote economic, trade and investment cooperation with Việt Nam and bolster bilateral trade to meet the developmental and economic aspirations of both countries.
Can you elaborate on the incentives that Qatar offers to foreign businesses, including Vietnamese companies?
Over the past few years, Qatar has revised its legislative framework and business regulations to improve the country’s business-friendly environment and provide further incentives to foreign investors.
These include a law on regulating the Investment of Non-Qatari Capital in Economic Activity that allows foreign investors up to 100 per cent ownership in all economic and commercial activities.
Qatar also allows investors up to 100 per cent ownership in free zones with no restrictions on the repatriation of capital.
Recently, Qatar has also issued law number 16 on the regulation of non-Qatari ownership and use of real estate in Qatar to further attract foreign investments. The decision enables investments in the real estate market through investment funds in 16 areas.
Qatar is also working on the development of a public-private partnership law, which will deliver a major boost to the country's business environment.
Other initiatives aimed at attracting foreign investments and encouraging entrepreneurs to invest in innovative industries include the “Own your Factory within 72 hours” initiative, which streamlines the issuance of all industrial and environmental approvals and licenses.
Qatar has also streamlined procedures, enabling investors to acquire a construction license for a warehouse within three working days.
Qatar is also planning to unveil 19 investment opportunities in a number of sectors and industries. — VNS
Qatar incentives for businesses
Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) is an onshore business and financial centre that licenses businesses looking to develop trade in Qatar and the region. It plays an important role to facilitate the success of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME), marking great contributions to the country’s economic growth.
The QFC has licensed nearly 670 firms from around the world since its inception in 2005. The figure is expected to be 1,000 firms by 2022.
QFC CEO Yousuf Mohamed Al-Jaida told Việt Nam News that despite the blockade [Four countries including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt announced an economic blockage of Qatar in June 2017], the year 2017 was in fact the fastest growth year in the centre’s history, which saw a 66 per cent rise in the number of firms, whereas 2018 saw a 31 per cent increase.
“We offer businesses a variety of unique benefits including up to 100 per cent foreign ownership, 100 per cent repatriation of profits, trading in any currency, and a transparent operating environment based on English common law,” Yousuf said.
The QFC recently announced its new strategy which includes a renewed focus on specific sectors such as media, digital, sports, and financial services, which encompasses Islamic Finance and Fintech in particular. These sectors have been chosen owing to their great potential for future growth, as well as Qatar’s well-established ecosystem in these sectors. Each of these sectors presents unique and valuable opportunities for foreign investors.
The QFC is working towards achieving ambitious objectives which include establishing a financial city in Msheireb Downtown Doha, one of the smartest cities in the world; licensing 1,000 firms; creating 10,000 jobs in the private sector; tripling the assets of QFC-registered firms; and reaching 5 per cent Qatar Stock Exchange market capitalisation.
Besides the QFC, Qatar Free Zones Authority (QFZA) plays an important role in creating the right environment to attract foreign investors and promote diversification in the country. It helps strengthen and diversify the economic growth of Qatar through self-sustaining business eco-system, based on transparency and the rule of law, and supports companies to expand into nearby markets in Europe, North Africa and western Asia.
Chief Executive Officer of QFZA Lim Meng Hui said the free zones had unveiled a $3 billion development and foreign direct investment fund to encourage and support SMEs.
Lim said the QFZA was able to serve partners who are coming right now and create solutions for others intending to invest in the free zones.
“In term of incentives, we have a few key incentives for investors including exemption of 20 years of corporate tax, no individual income tax and zero customs duties and imports,” he added.—VNS