France and Qatar are working in close cooperation to further deepen and strengthen bilateral relations. Both sides are also exploring new areas to expand the level of cooperation between the two nations, said a top diplomat from France.
French companies, which are already working in Qatar for years and decades, have accelerated their efforts and contributions to help Qatar achieve economic diversification and self-sufficiency, especially with regard to food security and knowledge-based society.
“French companies working in Qatar to help the country achieve economic diversification and self-sufficiency with their strong contribution in almost every key sectors of the Qatari economy, including energy, power, construction, real estate, health, education, and training. And the level of cooperation is deepening, growing and expanding in new areas, such as agriculture and others,” French Ambassador to Qatar Eric Chevallier told The Peninsula.
Providing instances of the expanding economic relations, Chevallier added: “Let’s take the example of the recently concluded 6th Qatar International Agricultural Exhibition & Conference (AgriteQ), several French companies specializing in the sector, participated at the event and expressed their keen interest to cooperate with Qatari side to enable Qatar to achieve self-sufficiency, especially in terms of food safety.”
Qatar has been very focused on the agenda of food security and self-sufficiency for some time, but after the unjust economic blockade by Arab quartet, the efforts have accelerated manifold. Last year, Qatar announced that it will build a QR1.6bn food storage and processing facility at Hamad Port capable of supplying stockpile for three main commodities – rice, sugar, and edible oils, for three million people for two and a half years.
According to reports, Qatar’s state-backed investor in the food and agri-business sectors, Hassad Food now produces 250,000 heads of sheep and 179,000 tonnes of grains annually.
The senior French diplomat noted that in addition to food security, France is also participating in many other areas of strategic importance, and extend its support and cooperation, such as civil aviation, defense, and others, for mutual interests.
Commenting the bilateral ties, he reiterated that the economic dimension of the relationship between the two friendly countries is defined by the extent of the relationship itself.
“Its longstanding, deep-rooted, and strong, which is continuously improving and increasing,” French Ambassador to Qatar Eric Chevallier added.
“The increasing number of French companies setting up businesses in Doha and the existing ones are expanding their operations as the Qatari economy is thriving.” The French envoy also mentioned about the recently inaugurated expansion plant of Qatar International Cables Company’s (QICC) in Mesaieed, which is a joint venture between Al Mirqab Capital and Nexans from France, a global leader in advanced cabling and connectivity solutions.
“The project is a key element of the new dynamics of the economy with regard to cables. These products are very important for economic growth in many sectors, including the power sector. This expansion project is the part of increased dynamics…French in Qatar are working together for a better future,” noted Chevallier.
He also noted that economic ties with Qatar are solid, both commercially and financially. “While our trade slightly decreased in 2016, after a record year in 2015, it is still much higher than in previous years.”
With bilateral trade volume at €2.039bn (QR9.14bn) in 2016 Qatar represented France’s seventh-largest trade surplus at €1.6bn (€1.8bn of exports and €239m of imports).
France also remains one of the leading destinations for Qatari foreign investment, along with the UK, Germany and the US. Qatari investments in France were estimated at nearly €25bn in 2016.