Free Trade Zones

Qatar and the United Kingdom: a solidly rooted economic partnership

Economic, trade and investment relations between the State of Qatar and Great Britain have achieved a qualitative leap and remarkable development at various levels in recent years.
These relations should be more firmly established after the current visit of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, which is part of his European tour.
The indicators and milestones reached by the two countries over the past year, including the willingness to engage in strategic dialogue, show that both parties are keen to give greater impetus to economic relations in the coming period in seeking new lines of partnership that include various areas in view of the State of Qatar’s desire to strengthen and develop its relations with various countries of the world and Great Britain’s desire to diversify its economic partners, in particular after leaving the European Union.

This partnership has seen development and growth dating back to the early days of oil exploration in the Gulf region, when British companies played a key role in the development of the oil and gas industry in the countries of the region, including the State of Qatar.
Thus, British companies have become a strong presence in various economic activities, including industry, commerce, tourism and financial services.
These historic and strong relations between the two countries have prompted every effort to strengthen them.
The meetings and forums were important steps in building a genuine partnership that serves the interests of both countries in light of the opportunities available in the investment and trade sectors, such as Qatar and UK Business and Investment Forum in London and Birmingham in March 2019. 2017, which strengthened Qatar’s presence in the UK market in the energy, infrastructure, services and real estate sectors.
It represented a valuable opportunity for British companies to discover the most important investment opportunities available in many sectors of the State of Qatar.
In turn, the agreements and treaties between the two parties have provided the appropriate framework to further strengthen the means of cooperation in various fields, which are supported by the enormous balance of Qatari assets, both public and private, in Britain, while the volume of investments are estimated at around £40 billion, making it one of the largest investors in the UK.
Qatar owns Harrods, the Shard and Canary Wharf buildings in the heart of the British capital.
Doha has also acquired a stake in the London Stock Exchange, in addition to Qatar Investment Authority’s success in acquiring 22% of Sainsbury’s stores and 5.9% of Barclays Bank.
These strategic relations between the two countries have also resulted in a number of mega-projects and cooperation and partnership agreements which mainly include the energy sector, as the South Hook LNG terminal, launched more than 12 years, is a major pillar of this partnership and an example to follow in building a relationship that serves the interests of both parties.
The Qatari gas industry secures 20% of UK consumption at consumer and business level.
It is expected that this cooperation will be strengthened with the British government’s desire to increase its gas imports as part of the diversification of supply sources to between 70 and 80% between the 2030s and 2040s, according to the latest reports from the field.
In light of this data, the United Kingdom has become one of the largest and strongest trading partners of the State of Qatar, with the volume of trade between the two parties increasing in 2021 by around 51 .4% from 2020, reaching around $4.54. bn, which has supported the UK’s position as the State of Qatar’s seventh largest trading partner, in addition to the strong presence of British companies in the Qatari market, where the number reaches 1,119 companies.
In a step that improves the course of trade and investment relations, resulting in mutual economic and social development, the United Kingdom opened an office at the end of December last year at its embassy headquarters in Doha, dedicated to financing UK exports to meet the requirements of major projects in Qatar.
For their part, Qatari private investments play a major role in the British economy by investing in the hotel sector, such as the Ritz hotel in London, the acquisition value of which has been estimated at around 700 million pounds. sterling.
Qatar House Speaker Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani told QNA that His Highness Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani’s visit to the UK opens up broad prospects for cooperation in various fields. , particularly with regard to trade and investment cooperation, as the United Kingdom is an important trading partner for the State of Qatar and there is a common desire to develop trade and investment cooperation between the two parties.
He added that the State of Qatar enjoys close and distinguished cooperative relations with the United Kingdom, especially in the trade and economic fields.
This is reflected in the continued growth of trade and investment relations, he explained, pointing out that trade between the two countries stood at around QR 16.6 billion in 2021 from QR 10.9 billion. QR last year, a growth rate of more than 52%.
He pointed to the growth of investment relations between the two countries in recent years, which includes various sectors such as real estate, hospitality, banking, aviation, capital markets and others.
By contrast, British investment in Qatar varies to include sectors such as energy, industry, shipping, health, education, trade and contracts, as hundreds of British companies are present in the Qatari market.
Today, the two countries stand on the threshold of a new phase of cooperation and economic partnership in the light of developments, trends and development visions on both sides, which will contribute to strengthening, deepening and broaden the frameworks and areas of this partnership in order to achieve their future goals and ambitions.
For his part, economist James Swanston of Capital Economics said that increased economic cooperation between Qatar and the UK will help alleviate the unprecedented levels of inflation in the UK.
He noted that Qatar increased its LNG exports to the UK by 10% in February, March and April.
He added that this increase will be reflected in the coming months, in the form of an easing of the energy price crisis in the United Kingdom. Regarding the role Qatar can play in improving UK energy security in light of the current global crisis, Swanston said that Qatar’s announcement of its plan to increase natural gas in a five-year plan will strengthen its ability to meet the needs of the UK market. , and the European market in general.
He told QNA that the signing of LNG import agreements from Qatar can now balance the expected deficit resulting from the embargo on Russian oil and gas following the war in Ukraine, which, a- he pointed out, was something very important for the UK.
Regarding the scope of economic cooperation between Qatar and the UK, he said that bilateral cooperation had seen strong growth recently, and added that there was still more room to strengthen cooperation, especially in terms of bilateral trade and investment.
He said he expects bilateral trade to increase between the two sides, especially after the UK’s exit from the EU.
He said the UK was considering establishing free trade areas and the GCC would be one of those areas.
He added that the opening of a UK export finance office in Doha is an indication of London’s commitment to boosting bilateral trade and investment.
He said the office will offer more options backed by the UK government, with the aim of supporting the establishment of major projects around the world and supplying these projects with world-class UK products and services.
He also said that the holding of a strategic dialogue between Qatar and the United Kingdom proves the commitment of both parties to strengthen cooperation, especially in trade and investment.
He noted that Qatari investments in the UK amounted to £40bn and the increase in two-way trade to $4.54bn before the end of last year also confirmed the scale of the ties. economy between the two countries.