H.E. Ali bin Ahmed Al Kuwari, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has underscored the importance of promoting investment and trade cooperation between Qatar and Austria and praised the friendly relations between the two countries as evidenced by the exchange of high-ranking official visits since the 1970’s when Qatar opened its embassy in Austria.
H.E. delivered his remarks as he co-chaired with H.E Mr. Harald Mahrer. President of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber, the Austrian- Qatari Business Forum which took place on Tuesday 5 March 2019 in Vienna.
In his opening speech, H.E. Mr. Al Kuwari called on Qatar and Austria to capitalize on their potential to further bolster bilateral trade, which was valued at around 187 million euros in 2018.
H.E. emphasized that bilateral trade agreements represent a strategic advancement that would pave the way for the establishment and activation of the Austrian-Qatari Businessmen Council, a move that will strengthen bilateral cooperation and support the establishment of joint development projects.
Praising the contribution of over 51 Austrian companies that are currently operating in Qatar to the country’s rapidly expanding economy, H.E. said Qatar looks forward to welcoming Austrian investors to take advantage of the promising opportunities that Qatar offers.
These include investment projects being undertaken within the framework of the Qatar National Vision 2030 and in preparation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Touching on Qatar’s economic environment, H.E. highlighted that the nation has cemented its position as one of the region’s most stable, competitive and growth-oriented economies, as evidenced by the rising contribution of the non-hydrocarbon sector to national GDP, which reached around 52% in 2017.
Quoting the World Bank, H.E. said the Qatari economy is expected to grow at 2.7% in 2019 and 3% in 2020.
H.E. argued that these positive economic indicators demonstrate the success of Qatar’s policies as outlined in the Second National Development Strategy 2018-2022, which focuses on providing support for the private sector to enhance the competitiveness and diversification of the national economy.
Along the same lines, Qatar has sought to open its economy to the world, H.E. said, noting that the government has waived visa requirements for citizens from over 80 countries.
Qatar is also modernising its infrastructure to increase trade with its various partners around the world, H.E. said, noting that these efforts have been supported by Qatar Airways, which operates a fleet of more than 230 aircraft that fly to over 160 destinations worldwide through Hamad International Airport, one of the world’s leading international airports with an annual capacity of 50 million passengers.
Hamad Port, one of the largest in the Middle East, is also playing a pivotal role in linking Qatar to the world’s major economies through direct shipping lines, H.E. said, adding that the port has cemented Qatar’s position as a major transit hub with links to more than 40 ports in three continents.
H.E. concluded his remarks by expressing hope that this forum will pave the way for successful investment partnerships that will serve Qatar and Austria’s shared objectives and interests.
The forum brought together H.E. Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani, Chairman of Qatar Chamber, H.E. Sheikh Faisal Bin Qasim Al Thani, Chairman of the Qatari Businessmen Association, Mr.Franz Wessig Deputy Vice Minister at the Austrian Federal Ministry of Digital and Economic Affairs, along with a large number of businessmen, senior officials, decision-makers and investors from both countries.
Speaking at the forum, H.E Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim Al Thani, underlined the strength of relations between Qatar and Austria in various fields, particularly on the economic and trade levels.
H.E. Sheikh Khalifa noted that both countries are keen on enhancing trade and investment cooperation and strengthening ties between their business communities to the benefit of both nations, which enjoy close ties amid efforts by the Qatari and Austrian private sectors to bolster trade.
H.E. explained that the Qatari private sector considers Austria to be a unique and attractive investment destination, noting that Qatari businessmen are seeking to identify new investment opportunities and explore further partnerships and alliances with their Austrian counterparts to develop joint investment projects in both countries.
H.E. Sheikh Khalifa highlighted Qatar’s investment-friendly environment, noting that the blockade imposed on Qatar since mid-2017 contributed to empowering the Qatari private sector to enhance its contribution to productive projects instead of relying on the import of goods from neighbouring countries.
He concluded his remarks by expressing hope that the forum will pave the way for further cooperation in the fields of trade and economy, and will inspire businessmen from both countries to enter into new partnerships and projects that benefit both economies.
For his part, H.E. Sheikh Faisal Bin Qasim Al Thani said Qatar was keen on bolstering and developing partnerships with Austria, both on the governmental and private levels.
H.E. stressed that Qatar and Austria are well equipped both socially and economically to succeed, noting that success factors are supported by the safe investment climate which governed by laws and legislation that facilitate business activities and both countries’ advanced rankings on global indicators.
H.E. added that Qatar is prioritizing the implementation of comprehensive and sustainable development policies by 2030 by seeking to promote foreign investments, the adoption of advanced technologies and the localization of highly competitive industries.
To advance these objectives, Qatar is offering incentives to foreign investors in line with the investment law which allows up to 100% foreign ownership in the majority of economic sectors in addition to taking advantage of advanced logistics services, H.E. Sheikh Faisal said.
H.E. the Chairman of the Qatari Businessmen Association expressed hope that the forum will pave the way for new partnerships to gain better insight into the business environment in both countries.
H.E. Minister of Commerce and Industry attended the signing ceremony of a memorandum of understanding between Qatar Chamber and the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber.
The forum featured presentations on the investment opportunities that Qatar offers promising economic sectors. Mr. Abdulbasit Al-Ajji, Director of Business Development and Investment Promotion Department at the Ministry of commerce and Industry, delivered a presentation on the “Invest in Qatar” project while Ali Hassan Al Neama, Commercial Manager at the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, shed light on projects being implemented in the framework of the FIFA World Cup 2022. For his part, Mr. Fahad Zeinal, Chief Corporate Services Officer at Qatar Free Zone, delivered a presentation entitled “Discover Qatar Free Zones” while Eng. Ahmed Al Saleh, Lusail Tram Project Director, highlighted the projects being implemented in this context.
Mr. Fahad Al Kaabi, CEO of Manateq, familiarized participants with the characteristics of the economic zones.
Philipp Schramel, Austrian Commercial Attaché in Doha, shed light on the characteristics of Qatari-Austrian economic relations. A presentation was also screened on Austrian companies.
The forum also featured bilateral meetings between Qatari and Austrian businessmen, during which they reviewed investment opportunities in both countries and discussed efforts to build long-term economic cooperation mechanisms.
On the sidelines of the forum, several agreements were signed between the Qatari private sector and its Austrian counterpart.
The forum falls in line with efforts to expand trade, investment and industrial cooperation and engage the Qatari and Austrian private sectors to establish joint investment projects to the benefit of both countries.