Japanese companies continue to play a leading role in supporting Qatar’s development, particularly in the information technology sector, energy and mining industries, and infrastructure development, namely the Qatar Rail project, said HE the Minister of Commerce and Industry Ali bin Ahmed al-Kuwari. “The development of trade co-operation with Japan has reflected positively on bilateral trade, which grew by 22% in 2018 to $16bn. Today, Japan ranks as Qatar’s first trading partner, accounting for 13.8% of Qatar’s global trade volume,” al-Kuwari said while chairing the Qatar-Japan Business Forum in Tokyo yesterday. Some 35 fully-owned Japanese companies are currently operating in Qatar with a capital of $410mn, in addition to 23 joint Qatari-Japanese firms with a total capital of $2.2bn.
Underlining the “importance of four decades of historic and strategic” Qatari-Japanese partnerships, he said “it reflects the keenness of both countries to bolster bilateral ties across various fields.” Qatar looks forward to further co-operation with Japan, a major developed country with a unique economic model. He urged for collaboration in the fields of renewable energy, advanced technology, innovation, industry, and the SME sector among others. The development of these sectors falls in line with Qatar’s strategies in economic policies, which include economic diversification, localisation of industries, enhancing production capacities and promotion of export competitiveness.
Qatar and Japan are also bound by several memoranda of understanding and agreements that contribute to the promotion of bilateral ties, al-Kuwari said, emphasising the importance of “breathing life” into the existing agreements and ratifying new ones. In this context, he urged the ratification of an agreement on mutual protection and promotion of investments, which will pave the way for new Qatari-Japanese private sector partnerships and joint investments that benefit both countries. On another note, the minister said, “Today’s gathering comes amid growing concerns over slowing global economic growth in 2019 due to trade wars and rising interest rates.” Now more than ever, both Qatar and Japan need to come together and join efforts to create new partnership opportunities, consolidate economic and investment alliances, and strengthen bilateral trade.
In this context, the minister invited Japanese companies to take advantage of the business and investment-friendly environment that Qatar offers to foreign investors as evidenced by the country’s ranking by some of the world’s most prestigious international institutions. Globally, Qatar ranks first in terms of low inflation rates, sixth in terms of the effect of taxes on competition, eight in terms of venture capital availability, and ninth in terms of financing small and medium enterprises (SMEs), the minister said, quoting the World Economic Forum’s ‘Global Competitiveness Report 2018’.He explained that “Qatar’s significant success in this regard has been driven by the integrated policies established by the country’s wise leadership to open the economy, and attract investments into industries and sectors that will cement Qatar’s position as a leading regional trade and investment hub.”
Foreign companies that choose to set up shop in Qatar will find a multitude of investment opportunities to tap, al-Kuwari said, referring to development projects being undertaken within the framework of the Qatar National Vision 2030 and ahead of preparations to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Touching on the investment incentives that Qatar offers to Japanese investors, the minister said foreign investors are allowed up to 100% ownership across various sectors and industries among other incentives that will enable companies to expand their businesses to regional markets, by taking advantage of Qatar’s strategic location between the East and West.Speaking at the forum, Qatar Chamber chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani stressed the depth of Qatari-Japanese co-operation across various fields, particularly on the economic and trade levels.
Sheikh Khalifa said both countries are keen on enhancing trade and investment co-operation, noting that the Qatari and Japanese private sectors are supporting and strengthening these relations through joint co-operation, which aims at enhancing bilateral trade. HE the Minister of Finance Ali Sheriff al-Emadi and HE the Minister of State for Energy Affairs Saad bin Sherida al-Kaabi attended the opening ceremony of the forum along with Sheikh Khalifa and Sheikh Nawaf bin Nasser al-Thani, Board Member, Qatari Businessmen Association. The Japanese participating delegation included Tatsuya Terazawa, Vice-Minister (International Affairs) at Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Kazuo Matsunaga, chairman, Japan Cooperation Center for the Middle East, and Toshio Mita, chairman, Japan-Qatar Friendship Association.
Sources and photo-credits: Gulf Times