The volume of bilateral trade between Qatar and the UK has reached over $9bn in 2019, with Qatar being the UK’s third-largest trading partner in the GCC, British Ambassador to Doha, Jon Wilks said yesterday. Speaking at the Doha Bank hosted a webinar on ‘Bilateral & Synergistic Opportunities Between Qatar and the United Kingdom’, the envoy added that a number of VIP visitors from the UK are due to arrive in Qatar soon.
“Aside from the great political relationship and growing trade and investment relationship, we also have an increasing defense and security cooperation. And part of that will be delivered in our partnership for the World Cup,” he said.
The Ambassador added that Qatari investments in the UK stood at £40bn. He said Qatar is also already investing in projects outside London, particularly in the South East of England. “Qatar Airways started its direct flights a couple of years ago in Cardiff. There is also major import for LNG outside London and Qatar is also looking for further investments there,” he added.
According to data presented during the event, trade volume between Qatar and the UK stood at £7bn from March 2019 to March 2020. To date, there are over 700 British companies registered in Qatar.
UK officials who spoke during the webinar also highlighted the growing number of British companies now exploring the Qatari market as an alternative to the EU market.
Speaking about post-Brexit relations between Qatar and the UK, the Ambassador added: “A result of Brexit will mean we can negotiate trade deals with markets beyond Europe. One of those deals could be with the GCC as a whole. We’re actually starting work on trade investment review between the UK and all the Gulf markets to see what would work best for both sides”.
He went on to reiterate the UK’s plan to work on the green carbon-neutral agenda with Qatar, as the UK hosts the international conference on climate change next year.
Speaking about global efforts to bounce back from the pandemic, he said: “Resilience and making sure all countries around the world are prepared to absorb a possible second wave of COVID, future pandemics, as well as other shocks to the international system. This is going to become a theme of international politics on the global economy. And with all attention around the US, China, and with the international institutions that have regulated global trade, it’s important for the UK that we stand up as supporters of a free and open global economy, and that we work with Qatar and others with that aim in mind”.
Also speaking during the event, Doha Bank CEO Dr. R Seetharaman highlighted Qatar’s resilience amid the pandemic. “We are focusing on revenue enhancement by looking at multilateral options. When it comes to easing the debt servicing capacity of the borrowers by fiscal and multilateral policy around the world, Qatar has stepped in so well, with the QR75bn government package for the private sector. In the process, we have seen a positive reflection. Trade expansion for the last eight months is about nearly 4 percent and deposit expansion is around 5.2 percent,” he added.
Other speakers during the event included Jinoos Shariati, First Secretary and Director of Trade and Investment at the Department for International Trade at the British Embassy in Qatar, Bandar Reda, CEO and Secretary-General of the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce in the UK, Eng Nasser Al Ansari, Chairman of Just Real Estate, and Richard Whiting, Chief Representative of Doha Bank UK Representative Office.