The Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) is ready to respond to the short-term need for various imports to Qatar, as well as offering long-term opportunity for joint venture or investments in many sectors, Asean Committee in Doha (ACD) chairman and Thailand ambassador Soonthorn Chaiyindeepum has said.
“This is something that they can look at markets in Southeast Asia and not only trade but also investment,” the envoy told reporters recently at an Asean event at the Thailand embassy in Doha.
“Asean is becoming close to the FTA (free trade agreement) with Arab countries so this is something they should consider an advantage not only just receiving and importing goods but also a long term investment,” he pointed out.
He cited Asean as a major producer and exporter of many products, including food and construction materials, which are in big demand in the Qatar market.
ACD has seen an increasing interest to import more products to the country, particularly halal food products.
Chaiyindeepum also noted that a new shipping route to Qatar is now being worked out.
With this new development, Asean countries hope the volume of trade with Qatar to increase further.
The envoy said he also noticed a lot inquiries and questions from Qatari companies about products from Asean countries such as food, paper, and other products.
About the blockade, he stressed that it has no impact on Thailand business in Qatar. Thailand companies will be coming to Doha to negotiate with importing Qatar companies.
Chaiyindeepum said they will be supplying premium chicken products.
“This is something that they can say business as usual, a lot of potential that we can do but for the long term.”
“The current economic blockade (imposed by the Saudi-led bloc) has led to the need by Qatar to diversify its trade and investment with other countries outside the region. This does not include only Turkey but also other countries in Asia such as India and Asean,” the envoy noted.
Echoing the statement of the ACD chairman, Singapore ambassador Jai Sohan Singh stressed that more co-operation in various fields between Asean and Qatar are also in the pipeline, including education.
“We are not just looking at food but bigger fields because there is a lot that Qatar and Asean can learn and share with one another,” he said.
Asean has close relations with Qatar not only in terms of energy but also on importing manufacturing goods and food, among others, added Singh.