Trade and economic cooperation between Qatar and Mexico is expected to witness a major boost in 2020 and beyond as both the countries have been working closely to expand and deepen ties in several areas.
Senior officials and business leaders from both the countries are discussing and exploring various investment opportunities in Qatar as well as in Mexico, which is offering huge investment opportunities as the North American country is in the process of developing a huge number of infrastructure projects (1,600) consisting a wide network of road and rail, airports and seaports, schools and hospitals among others, over the next 5 years, according to a Doha-based expert, who has been working for several years in promoting trade and investment between Qatar and Mexico.
“The bilateral trade and investment between Qatar and Mexico has been growing sharp and steadily, at least over the last few years. The trade exchange between the two countries reached $263m (over QR950m) in 2018, witnessing a 33 percent increase compared to 2017, which was more than what we had expected,” Juan Cepeda, Partner of Bratus Consultores (consultants), told The Peninsula in an interview, yesterday.
He added: “The bilateral trade volume in 2019 continued to increase at the same pace, which is expected to register nearly 40 percent growth once the numbers for the full year are out. Qatar’s investments in Mexico, mainly in the energy sector, are likely to create more opportunities in several other sectors, which will further accelerate the growth in bilateral trade.”
Cepeda, former Director of the-now-defunct ProMexico (Middle East), the trade and investment promotion arm of the Ministry of Economy (Mexico), noted that several important public and private entities such as Qatar Financial Centre, Qatar Free Zones Authority and the newly-launched Qatar’s Investment Promotion Agency, in collaboration with World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (WAIPA), have been working and exploring investment opportunities in Qatar, Mexico and beyond.
“A lot of Mexican companies are enquiring with us about the promising investment opportunities in Qatar. They are keen to invest, especially in the upcoming free zones. Qatar’s economic and labor reforms and the investment-friendly ecosystem have evoked great response from the foreign investors from around the world, including Mexico,” he said.
Mexican companies are working to enhance their presence in Qatar. Currently, main products exported by Mexico to Qatar include vehicles, steel pipes, fridges, boats, dehydrated fruits, tractors, chickpeas, berries, sugar, candies, avocado, cranberries, strawberries, membrane for roofs and facades for stadium, while Mexico’s main imports from Qatar are limited to aluminum and petrochemicals products, but the country is also looking forward to resuming its gas imports from Qatar, according to Cepeda.
Qatar Petroleum holds exploration rights in five offshore blocks in Mexico’s Perdido and Campeche basins, in consortium with ENI (1 block) and Shell (4 blocks). Along with this, in December 2018, QP signed a deal for the Qatari NOC to acquire stakes in three ENI operated oil fields in Mexico.
“The fact that Qatar Airways has cargo flights to Mexico City and Guadalajara is a key factor for this trade dynamic we are experiencing; and I hope in the near future, Qatar Airways can have a direct passenger flight to Mexico City, which will further help boosting the bilateral cooperation.
“The Qatar-Mexico Business Committee met twice since its inception. It will be important to enhance this tool to link the private sector of both countries. There are pending topics to strengthen the bilateral relation. For example, there is a need to sign the investment promotion and protection agreement between the two countries,” he said.
He also said that the Middle East in general and Qatar in particular, are becoming slowly but steadily alternative markets to Mexico’s endeavor to diversify its economy. “Bratus, in collaboration with other stakeholders, is working to bring more Mexican companies to Qatar. Dunn Lightweight Architecture has been a flagship that propels other companies to look for opportunities in Qatar,” Cepeda added.