Trade volume between Qatar and member states of the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) was $81 billion, or 70 percent of the state’s international trade, Minister of Commerce and Industry H E Ali bin Ahmed Al Kuwari said today.
Speaking at the opening of the ACD Business Forum, which began today, the minister said that this level of trade reflects Qatar’s strategic policies and principles of openness and economic diversification, in line with its National Vision 2030.
He also said that his country is prepared to act as a hub for communication between ACD member countries, in order to continue dialogue and coordination to face the challenges of mutual trade and economic cooperation, adding that this will support joint action and economic integration among Asian countries.
The ACD Business Forum is being held following an initiative made by Qatar. It focuses on the role of SMEs as an engine for sustainable economic prosperity. It takes place in the presence of ministers, senior officials, and businessmen from a number of member countries.
The forum will discuss a number of topics related to enhancing the role of SMEs in sustainable development. It will also review Qatar’s advanced legislative structure as a gateway to regional markets, the role of creativity and innovation in business success, and business meetings to discuss vital economic sectors Such as construction, logistics, food and agriculture, electronics, information technology, tourism, hotel management, healthcare, banking, and finance.
The Minister said that this forum represents an important platform to discuss ways of enhancing partnership and economic cooperation among the countries of Asia. He pointed out that the cooperation dialogue has witnessed a great development since its establishment in 2002. It is today one of the largest political and economic forums in the world, with the size of the Asian market exceeding 4.4 billion people, or 60 percent of the world’s population. He also pointed out that the ACD member countries account for more than 35 percent of the world trade volume and the foreign trade value of these countries exceeded $12 trillion.
He pointed out that these indicators, in addition to the potential Asian countries have, show that the Asian continent can build one of the most important economic forces in the world. However geopolitical, economic and trade changes have affected Asian countries.
The Minister affirmed that Qatar’s presidency of the ACD this year reflects its keenness to work hand in hand with the General Secretariat of the Dialogue to strengthen the ties between Asian countries and develop bilateral and multilateral cooperation between them. He pointed out that Qatar paid great attention to the private sector and investment, believing in the important role of these sectors in enhancing the competitiveness and diversification of the national economy. In this context, he referred to the acceleration of the State’s implementation of measures aimed at supporting the private sector and opening up the economy by strengthening cooperation with all strategic partners of Qatar around the world, especially in Asia. He added that one way will be to pave the way for local and international companies to invest in major developmental projects based on Qatar National Vision 2030 and linked to hosting the FIFA World Cup 2022.
The Minister also pointed out that Qatar provides attractive incentives for foreign direct investment and directs it towards the vital sectors identified by the Second National Development Strategy 2018-2022, the most important aspects of which are food security, health, education, and tourism. He added that Qatar has updated the legislative frameworks governing the investment sector, including the provision of real estate ownership to non-Qatari individuals, non-Qatari commercial companies and real estate investment trusts, as well as the freehold ownership of non-Qatari real estate in several strategic economic and tourism zones in the country, allowing foreigners to own shops in malls.
He also pointed to the amendments to the law of free zones, which allows investors in these areas to cover the local markets and benefit from investment funds and enter into joint ventures with local companies backed by the state.
He pointed out that the State initiated the facilitation of the system of granting commercial and industrial licenses and the development of services and infrastructure provided to investors, which would enable private companies of ACD members to invest in Qatar and benefit from the industrial and logistical areas for their food products and pharmaceutical projects. The minister added that companies which serve ACD members can establish its factories in Qatar’s free zones and export them to those markets, benefiting from Qatar Airways cargo fleet which includes 230 planes to 160 destinations around the world, or from Hamad port, which is the biggest in the region with a capacity reaching 7.5 million module containers annually. This port plays a pivotal role in linking Qatar to the world’s most prominent economies through direct commercial lines that have supported the country’s status as a transit point for more than 40 ports in three continents around the world.
Regarding cooperation in the promotion of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), he said that the ACD Business Forum slogan reflects Qatar’s belief in the importance of the role of SMEs in providing job opportunities for young people, promoting creativity and innovation.
Qatar Chamber’s First Vice-Chairman Mohamed bin Ahmed bin Towar Al Kuwari stressed Qatar’s commitment to supporting joint Asian work, as well as its full commitment to expanding cooperation with Asian countries in all fields.
Al Kuwari added during his speech at the forum that Qatar Chamber is working hard to strengthen its relations with its counterparts in the Asian Dialogue countries, with the aim of creating the appropriate environment and climate conducive to strengthening the relations of cooperation between business sectors in Qatar and their counterparts in these countries. He added that the Chamber encourages Qatari businessmen to invest in these countries and to establish trade and investment partnerships that increase trade exchange between Qatar and the ACD countries, in the hope of realizing the desired regional economic integration.
He also said that the chamber was committed to supporting the small and medium-sized project, especially since they are a strong catalyst for economic growth. He also pointed out that the Chamber has been very supportive of young entrepreneurs and their efforts in launching their startups, especially with the necessary funding, either through Qatar Development Bank, which is a pioneer in this field, or through local commercial banks.
Al Kuwari said that the Business Forum of the ACD was an important platform for business sectors in Asian countries that want to enhance their partnership, increase opportunities for cooperation and establish business alliances that can enhance economic ties among Asian countries. He also said that the forum allows for the exchange of ideas and experiences of the participants.