Minister of Economy and Commerce: New legislations and advanced role of administrative authorities reinforce consumer rights and fair competition in local markets

March 10, 2016

H.E. Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani, Qatar’s Minister of Economy and Commerce has inaugurated today, March 9, 2016 a two-day international workshop entitled “Achieving Effective Consumer Protection and Competition through Cross-Border Cooperation.”
The workshop, which is organized by the Ministry of Economy and Commerce in collaboration with the General Secretariat of the Gulf Cooperation Council and the US Federal Trade Commission, brought together experts and specialists in the field of competition and consumer protection.
In his opening speech, H.E. Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani stressed that the organization of this workshop comes within the framework of the ministry’s efforts to adopt best regional and international practices in the field of consumer rights and competition protection.
The Minister said the workshop provides an opportunity to transform ideas, initiatives and recommendations into actions that will reflect positively on Qatar’s consumers and the country’s business environment.
Sheikh Ahmed added that consumer protection and the promotion of competition represent two pillars of Qatar’s economic policies and catalysts of sustainable development in line with the objectives of Qatar National Vision 2030.
The minister stated that Qatar has made significant progress in terms of promoting consumer protection and competition through the adoption of several laws that have contributed to the development of its business environment.
Sheikh Ahmed added that new legislations, such as law No. (19) of 2006 on competition protection and anti-monopoly practices and law No. (8) of 2008 on consumer protection, have helped promote fair competition in local markets and allowed consumers to better protect their rights and defend their interests.
Sheikh Ahmed said the Ministry has also encouraged the role of the administrative authorities responsible for protecting consumer rights including the Competition Protection and Anti-Monopoly Practices Committee, which has been granted the necessary support to perform its duties.
Sheikh Ahmed also praised the Ministry for its achievements in the automotive sector particularly in terms of easing car warranty restrictions by compelling dealers to grant clients the freedom to conduct periodic maintenance and vehicle repairs at workshops of their choice during warranty periods.
The initiative has motivated car dealers to improve their performance, increase their competitiveness and enhance the quality of services provided to consumers.
The minister also added that the ministry has provided a range of smart services through its mobile application, allowing users to accomplish a variety of transactions electronically without having to visit the ministry and submit complaints as well as access price indicators and learn about the latest administrative closures and recall campaigns.
“Our efforts in the field of consumer and competition protection have bolstered Qatar’s position and strengthened our resolve and determination to launch new initiatives and projects in line with our vision of the future,” he said.
His Excellency noted that Qatar has ranked first among Arab counties and sixth globally among 144 countries on the Consumer Confidence Index, according to the Global Competitiveness Report issued by the World Economic Forum for 2015. Qatar also ranked first in the Arab world and sixth globally on the Effectiveness of Anti-Monopoly Policy sub-index and in third place globally on the Intensity of Local Competition sub-index, and recently acquired the Middle East Excellence Awards in Consumer Protection for the year 2015-2016.
HE Sheikh Ahmed wrapped up his speech by stressing that this workshop will contribute to enriching Qatar’s experience in the field of consumer protection and presents an opportunity for local authorities to learn more about best regional and international practices in this area.
The first day of the workshop featured three sessions. The first session touched on several topics pertaining to competition and consumer protection laws in the GCC and the United States as well as matters relating to competition and consumer protection in the automotive sector. During the second session, participants discussed cross-border cooperation while the third session touched on issues relating to commercial fraud, fraud verification methods and evidence collection methods.
The Ministry of Economy and Commerce has recently launched several initiatives to promote consumer protection such as the nine-clause initiative to ease car warranty restrictions and allow customers to conduct maintenance and repair works at workshops of their choice without revoking vehicle warranties.
The Ministry has also stepped up efforts to protect consumer rights and regulate markets by prohibiting all sales outlets from charging any commissions on credit and ATM card purchases through POS systems.
Similarly, the ministry has launched an initiative entitled “How Much?” through its mobile application on IPhone and Android devices under the name MEC_QATAR. The service enables consumers to report retail outlets, commercial establishments and points of sale that fail to display the prices of goods and services clearly.