Qatar Chamber’s Second Vice Chairman Rashid bin Hamad Al Athba met yesterday with a media delegation from Balkan states in the presence of head of Qatari-Bulgarian Business Council, Peter Michalos.

Al Athba briefed the visiting delegation on Qatar’s economy, role of the Chamber in activating the private sector and maximizing its contribution in the economic development, as well as the role of the chamber and private sector in overcoming the siege and Qatar National Vision 2030.

He noted that Qatar enjoyed strong relation with Balkan states at all levels, but their t is still below expectations and does not reflect the huge potentials that are available in both sides.

He said that Qatar’s trade with Belgaria, Serbia and Greece amounted to QR417m, including QR84 mn with Bulgaria, QR 26m with Serbia and QR 307m with Greece.

Underscoring the strength of Qatar economy, he said that it is one of the world’s fast-growing and dynamic economies, affirming that it has shown strong performance during the past couple of years, driven by the wise policies adopted by the State to stimulate various sectors the economy and Qatar’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew to $225bn last year.

He also said that according to the World Bank, Qatari economy is expected to grow at 2.7 percent in 2019 and 3 percent in 2020 partly driven by Qatar’s success in attracting foreign direct investments, noting that it is expected to grow by 3.4 percent by 2021, driven by higher growth in the services sector as Qatar readies to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Qatar Chamber officials holding discussions with the visiting media team.

Qatar has managed to build one of the most attractive investment environments in the world by developing its legislative environment and issuing new laws that protect and promote local and foreign investments, he added.

Regarding the siege, Al Athba said that Qatar converted the siege repercussions into benefits, stressing that it has contributed to accelerating development plans, as well as promoting the public-private co-operation and in activating industrial and agricultural development.

About investment climate, QC Second Vice Chairman said that Qatar has developed legislations regulating the business environment to allow foreign investors up to 100 percent ownership in all sectors, and economic and commercial activities in addition to allowing non-Qatari investors and commercial companies to invest in the realty sector and own properties in several vital economic and tourism areas across the country.

Elaborating Qatar Chamber’s roles in the national economy, he pointed out that it protects and represents the Qatari private sector, noting that the number of registered members reached 80000 members.

The chamber actively participated in trade missions and exhibitions, as well as in receiving foreign delegations wanting to explore investment opportunities in the local market, he added.

For his part, Peter Mihalos praised the development of Qatar economy and the investment climate in Qatar, terming it as attractive for investments.

Qatar’s economic growth will accelerate over the next two years amid expectations of stable oil prices and continued strong exports, the central bank said on Thursday.

Qatar, a major gas exporter, saw its economy grow 1.4% in 2018, down from 1.6% in 2017, government data showed.

“Although real GDP growth was somewhat slower than the preceding year, the economic outlook for 2019 remains positive,” Qatar Central Bank said in its 2018 report.

“Favourable movements in global oil prices, strong exports and improvement in fiscal balance are likely to provide overall macroeconomic stability in 2019.”

Citing data from the Planning and Statistics Authority, the central bank said real gross domestic product was likely to grow at an average rate of 2.8% between 2018-2020.

The budget surplus will fall to 4.35 billion riyals ($1.20 billion) in 2019, from a surplus of 15.1 billion riyals in 2018, as spending on major projects will rise by 15%, the bank said.

Qatar’s economy has withstood a diplomatic and economic blockade imposed by Gulf neighbours led by Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates since the middle of 2017.

The central bank said foreign capital inflows have returned and banking liquidity has improved, while its official reserves returned to pre-embargo level.

“After successfully tackling the economic blockade through liquidity support provided by the government through foreign currency deposits in 2017, there has been a withdrawal of public sector deposit as the liquidity situation turned normal,” the central bank said.

Qatar injected about $40 billion into its banking system in the months after the boycott in order to boost liquidity.

By Satish Kanady I The Peninsula

Qatar’s ongoing localisation initiatives, privatisation, and digitisation efforts are some of the important developments to watch out in 2019, in terms of the country’s future growth. The non-oil growth will be boosted by localisation drive, including the QP-led Tawteen initiative, PwC noted in its “Qatar

On the localisation drive, the PwC analysts said  the “Tawteen” program, launched in February, aims to add at least QR8bn a year in value to the economy, create thousands of high-skilled white-collar jobs and help to develop SMEs.

This will be achieved through a focus on In-Country Value (ICV). This calculates the portion of revenue of each of QP’s suppliers that is spent on local goods and services, workforce training, local supplier development, and investment in fixed assets.

“(Qatar’s) economy has recovered from a period of low energy prices and the impact of the regional blockade and is looking ahead to new opportunities. These will come as a result of economic reforms, such as the new foreign investment law, as well as from projects such as the North Field LNG expansion and preparations for the 2022 World Cup.

“Other important developments to watch out for in 2019 include localisation, privatisation, and digitisation efforts, the opening of new free zones, and infrastructural improvements such as the ongoing rollout of Metro services and the launch of 5G networks”,  said Bassam Hajhamad (pictured), Country Senior Partner, PwC.

The PwC noted Non-oil growth will be boosted by Qatar’s ongoing localisation drive. In addition to the QP-led Tawteen initiative, a new round of digital investment—supported by the launch of 5G networks, new government platforms and technology ranging from blockchain to AI—offers growth potential in many sectors.

Qatar’s localisation has been supported by public procurement policies and by incubating local small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), including through Qatar Development Bank. The focus on localisation has intensified in the last few years, ranging from local agricultural production, like Baladna’s dairy farming, to many of new light manufacturing facilities.

On the privatisation front,  Qatar has been giving a growing emphasis on harnessing the private sector as an engine for growth. The government has already handed over control of some previously public companies, such as Ooredoo, to private shareholders.

Even in downstream industries, although QP has maintained control it has shared equity ownership through IPOs, most recently of Qatar Aluminium Manufacturing Company’s (Qamco) last year.

Looking ahead, there is growing interest in utilising public private partnerships (PPPs) to both develop infrastructure and deliver services. The existing regulatory framework is flexible and robust enough to implement PPPs.

However, Qatar is introducing dedicated PPP Law and regulatory guidelines. This will define a clear governance regime for delivering PPP projects, sending a strong market signal that the government intends to ensure that the projects are bankable and are executed in a way that delivers social and economic benefits.

Qatar has a low tax environment, outside of the hydrocarbons sector, and ranks 2nd globally in the Paying Taxes1 report developed by PwC and the World Bank.  The Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) already offers a separate tax and legal environment for certain financial and business service firms.

The state has recently allocated $2bn to incentivise foreign investors in these areas through tax holidays, office costs and seed capital. Multinational businesses value a tax territory which helps prevent double taxation and mitigates risk related to compliance with disclosure requirements in other jurisdictions.

The Qatari authorities have worked to create such an environment, including through over 60 double-tax treaties and signing up to both the Base Erosion and Profits Shifting (BEPS) Inclusive Framework and the Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related

Measures to Prevent BEPS. Notably, unlike some low-tax territories, Qatar has not appeared in the EU’s blacklist of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions. The formation in early 2019 of the General Tax Authority (GTA), as an independent body with increased resources, should help further improve the tax environment.