In the presence of His Excellency Mr. Pedro Sánchez, Prime Minister of Spain, His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Qassim Al–Thani, Minister of Commerce and Industry, and Her Excellency Mrs. Reyes Maroto, Minister of Industry, Trade, and Tourism of the Kingdom of Spain, inauguratedthe Qatari-Spanish Business Meeting, organisedat the headquarters of the Spanish Confederation of Business Organizations (CEOE) in Madrid.
The opening session of the business meeting was attended by H.E. Mr. Antonio Garamendi, President of CEOE, H.E. Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al-Thani, Chairman of the Qatari Businessmen Association, H.E. Mr. Jose Luis Bonet, President of the Spain Chamber of Commerce, H.E. Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al-Thani, Chairman of Qatar Chamber, Mr. Ignacio Galán, Co-President of the Qatari- Spain Business Committee from the Spanish side, and H.E. Sheikh Dr. Khalid bin Thani Al-Thani, Co- President of the Qatari-Spain Business Committee from the Qatari side.
At the onset of his opening speech, His Excellency the Minister of Commerce and Industry expressed his sincere appreciation and gratitude to the Kingdom of Spain for its warm reception and hospitality, shining a spotlight at the strong, solid relations between the two countries.
H.E. touched on the Qatari-Spanish economic relations, pointing out that they had witnessed significant development during the past years. The volume of trade exchange between the two countries witnessed growth of about 44% between 2020 and 2021 to reach around $1.2 billion last year.
On the investment front, the number of Spanish companies operating in Qatar has reached about 220 companies that are active in a number of economic and vital fields, H.E. further stated, highlighting that the State of Qatar had made investments in the strategic sectors that support the Spanish economy, including those of tourism, sports, and real estate.
H.E. added that the agreements signed between the two sides during the past years had also contributed to consolidating Qatari-Spanish bilateral relations. Moreover, H.E. expressed his happiness with establishing the Qatari-Spanish Business Council, aimed at providing a platform and a starting point for enhancing economic and investment cooperation.
“We are aware of the importance of partnership in ensuring strengthening interstate bilateral relations. Therefore, the State of Qatar considers the Kingdom of Spain a promising strategic partner given the significant economic factors that characterise our two nations,” H.E. the Minister of Commerce and Industry said.
In this context, H.E. referred to the position of the State of Qatar as a leading investment destination in the region and the world, owing to its advanced business environment based on a stimulating legislative and administrative system and a robust infrastructure designed and built according to the highest international standards. These advantages instilled the State of Qatar in a strategic position as a logistical gateway for expanding towards markets in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.
In this regard, H.E. drew attention to the role played by Qatari ports, including Hamad Port, a key commercial port in the region. Many other major institutions play a significant role in promoting Qatar’s economic openness, and attracting major companies and investors from all over the world, H.E. added.
These gains contributed to enhancing the strength and durability of the Qatari economy, H.E. further stated, adding that according to the latest World Bank estimates, the Qatari economy was expected to grow by 4.9% in 2022.
In this context, H.E. referred to the remarkable performance of the non-oil sectors, whose contribution to the country’s GDP amounted to about 63.2% in 2021.
Moreover, H.E. pointed out the efforts made by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to develop the contribution of the manufacturing sector.
H.E. also referred to the rapid development witnessed by the telecommunications and information technology sector in Qatar at the level of technical infrastructure and fifth generation optical networks, which contributed to Qatar having a leading position in the MENA region as reflected in the Government Electronic and Mobile Services (GEMS) Maturity Index for the year 2021, according to a report issued by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA).
In a related context, H.E. expressed his appreciation of the continuous Qatari and Spanish efforts to establish regulatory frameworks for bilateral cooperation between the two countries. In this regard, H.E. referred to the memoranda of understanding (MoUs) signed between the two sides in the field of digital services, agricultural production, and joint cooperation between both countries’ business sectors.
At the conclusion of his speech, H.E. expressed his aspiration that the Business Meeting would contribute to advancing the distinguished Qatari-Spanish bilateral relations towards broader horizons of cooperation and joint action.
H.E. Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Qassim Al–Thani, Minister of Commerce and Industry, and Her Excellency Mrs. Reyes Maroto, Minister of Industry, Trade, and Tourism of the Kingdom of Spain, witnessed the signing ceremony of two MoUs between Qatar Chamber and each of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce and the Madrid Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services.
In the signing, the Qatari side was represented by His Excellency Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani, Chairman of the Qatar Chamber. From the Spanish side, the MoUs weresigned by His Excellency Mr. José Luis Bonet, President of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce and His Excellency Mr. Ángel Asensio, President of the Madrid Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services.
The MoUs aim to strengthen bridges of dialogue between the Qatari and Spanish business sectors and to consolidate cooperation in the fields of trade, investment, services, as well as other economic fields.
His Excellency the Minister of Commerce and Industry witnessed the signing of an MoU between the Qatari Businessmen Association and Iberdrola Company. From the Qatari side, the MoU was signed by His Excellency Sheikh Dr. Khalid bin Thani bin Abdullah Al Thani, Second Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Qatari Businessmen Association. From the Spanish side, it was signed by Mr. Ignacio Galán, Chairman and CEO of Iberdrola Company.
Moreover, His Excellency the Minister of Commerce and Industry attended the signing of an MoU between the Investment Promotion Agency of Qatar and Iberdrola Company, aimed at establishing a global innovation center to support digital transformation in the State of Qatar. The said MoU was signed by Sheikh Ali Alwaleed Al-Thani, Chief Executive Officer of the Investment Promotion Agency of Qatar, from the Qatari side. As for the Spanish side, it was signed by Mr. Santiago Bañales, Managing Director of Iberdrola Innovation in the Middle East.
The MoU aims to strengthen cooperation in the field of digital services, as well as to tap into the potential of the research, development, and innovation environment in the State of Qatar.
His Excellency the Minister of Commerce and Industry also saw the signing of an MoU between Hassad Food Company and Integra Agricultura Y Tecnologia, aimed at recycling the surplus agricultural production.
From the Qatari side, the MoU was signed byH.E. Eng. Mohammed Badr Al-Sada, CEO of Hassad Food Company, while from the Spanish side, it was signed by Mr. Esteban Barrachina, CEO of Integra Agricultura Y Tecnología.
The MoU in question seeks to develop innovative local projects that contribute to achieving food security for the State of Qatar, preserving local agricultural resources, and increasing local production of fodder.
The meeting featured a dialogue session on investment opportunities in the State of Qatar, during which visual presentations were made by His Excellency Sheikh Ali Al Waleed Al–Thani, CEO of the Investment Promotion AgencyQatar, Mr. Yousuf Mohamed Al-Jaida, CEO and Board Member of the Qatar Financial Centre, His Excellency Mohammed bin Hamad Al-Thani, Deputy CEO of Qatar Free Zones Authority and Mr. Yosouf Al-Salehi, Executive Director of Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP).
The presentations highlighted the performance of the national economy, the investment opportunities available in Qatar, as well as Qatar’s business environment, advanced logistical infrastructure, and promising economic sectors.
Moreover, the Meeting included a dialogue session on Qatari-Spanish economic and trade relations. The said dialogue session featured the participation of a number of Spanish authorities specialised in renewable energies, engineering, sports, and media.
The Business Meeting also comprised a number of bilateral side-meetings between businessmen from both sides, during which they discussed ways to build investment partnerships in sectors that support both countries’ economies.
It is worth noting that the Qatari-Spanish Business Meeting aims to build bridges of communication, as well as enhance trade, investment, and industrial relations between the State of Qatar and the Kingdom of Spain. It also ambitions to create effective partnerships and attract new investments to the Qatari market.