08/11/2018 08:13 AST

China is Qatar’s third largest trading partner with the combined value of trade exchange hitting at QR38.6bn ($10.6bn) in 2017, accounting for 10.92 percent Qatar’s total foreign trade, noted a senior government official at the opening of the Qatar-China Economic Forum in Shanghai, yesterday.

Sultan bin Rashid Al Khater, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry chaired the Forum, which took place on the sidelines of the First China International Import Expo in the commercial capital of the world’s second largest economy. He highlighted the importance of the bilateral economic cooperation for mutual benefits.

The event was also attended by Xu Lumi, Deputy Director General of the Department of West Asian and African Affairs at China’s Ministry of Commerce. Since the 1980’s, Qatar and China have enjoyed friendly relations, marked by the opening of embassies, the exchange of high-ranking official visits and the signing of several cooperation agreements aimed at strengthening economic and trade relations, Al Khater said in his opening speech.

These are mainly related to the promotion and protection of mutual investments, the development of joint investments, and several other memoranda of understanding in the areas of research, health, cultural and education fields, as well as maritime, air and land shipping, he added. The Undersecretary explained that these agreements reflect both countries’ keenness on strengthening cooperation across numerous fields, especially on the economic, trade and investment levels.

Commenting on Chinese investments in Qatar, he said at least 14 fully owned Chinese companies and over 181 joint Qatari-Chinese firms are currently operating in the Qatari market covering areas such as engineering, consulting, contracting, IT, commerce and services sectors.

Al Khater emphasised that the conference marks another milestone in the successful journey of Qatari-Chinese partnerships, adding that Qatar looks forward to building on bilateral ties and strengthening cooperation between the Qatari and Chinese private and public sectors to bolster trade and stimulate growth.

Elaborating on the resilience of Qatar’s economy, he said: “Wise economic policies that the country’s leadership has pursued to achieve the Qatar National Vision 2030, and build a diversified and competitive knowledge-based economy, have positioned Qatar as one of the most dynamic, stable and diversified investment destinations in the region.”

He also referred to the international agencies reports Qatar’s wise economic policies and the country’s success in weathering the regional crisis, he explained, noting that Fitch Ratings has classified Qatar’s outlook as stable, cementing the country’s (-AA) credit rating, one of the highest worldwide.

He also added that Qatar has begun to fast-track the implementation of progressive economic policies and has introduced key amendments to a number of existing business legislations to attract and encourage domestic and foreign investments Al Khater highlighted that these laws include the Investment Free Zones Law, the Investment of Non-Qatari Capital in Economic Activity, which allows up to 100 percent foreign investment in all economic and trade activities.

Qatar is also in the process of introducing a public and private sectors partnership law to pave the way for the launch of several investment projects, he noted.

He reiterated that Qatar welcomes Chinese investors who are looking to tap the promising investment opportunities that the country’s economy offers while working alongside Qatar to achieve shared economic goals, adding that Qatar’s business environment is the ideal place to do business.

The forum aimed at enhancing economic, trade and investment cooperation between Qatar and China and building communication channels between representatives of the Qatari and Chinese private sectors to establish joint investment projects that serve the interests of both countries.

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