Qatar is all set to conclude an economic and trade partnership agreement with Turkey to grant preferential treatment to Turkish goods and services in the domestic market, Minister of Economy and Commerce said on Tuesday 16 Jan.
Delivering opening speech at the Qatar-Turkey Economic Forum in Doha on Tuesday, Minister of Economy and Commerce HE Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassem bin Mohammed al Thani said the agreement would also aim at exploring new markets for both Turkish and Qatari products.
“Qatar is strategically positioned to be a commercial hub for the Arab countries and the rest of the world,” he said.
Hailing Turkey for its continued support to Qatar in overcoming economic challenges imposed by the siege countries, the minister said that Turkish firms made up for most of the consumer goods that used to be imported from the siege countries.
Turkish firms have provided high-quality alternatives for many consumer goods, he said, adding that both Qatari and Turkish private sectors have played a vital role in beating the siege.
Highlighting the growing trade between Qatar and Turkey, the minister said,
“The volume of trade between the two countries during the first half of 2017 was about QR2 billion.”
He said that the trade volume between the two countries saw a growth of 30 percent since the start of the siege in June last year.
The minister noted that the joint economic forum reflected mutual goal of the two sides to explore wider horizons for trade and economic cooperation and open up new fields to promote joint investments in the light of the great economic and trade potential of the two countries.
Speaking about the Qatari economy, the minister said that Qatar has maintained its position as one of the strongest regional economies and among the most promising economies on the global level despite the embargo imposed on it since June 5 last year.
Qatar’s success in overcoming the economic challenges shows its ability to open new channels with various trading partners around the world.
“We have developed alternative sources of import for goods and services through air cargo at Hamad International Airport from Turkey, India, Oman, Kuwait, Singapore, Thailand, China and Pakistan,” he said.
He said that Hamad Port now accounts for 27 percent of the regional trade volume in the Middle East and has reached 14 ports and 72 destinations worldwide thanks to its modern and huge logistical capabilities.
He pointed out that the country has undertaken to achieve self-sufficiency in many vital sectors through the implementation of projects including the launch of major projects for investors in the field of food security, logistics, sports, tourism, industrial, health, education and services.
More than 150 companies representing infrastructure, construction, medicines, medical supplies, food, agriculture, rubber, plastics, industrial equipment, electricity, logistics and security systems sectors participated in the forum.
The forum was also attended by Turkish Minister of Customs and Trade Bulent Tufenksi and Qatar Chamber Chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al Thani.
During the forum, Turkey’s Minister of Customs and Trade Bulent Tufenkci noted that the two countries could further enhance investment and co-operation ties in various sectors.
He said Turkey is home to the world’s second largest construction and contracting sector. With 250 construction companies at the global level, he said Turkey is keen to increase co-operation between Qatar and Turkey in the field of construction.
“Qatar and Turkey can join together to produce a similar product… I believe we could be in a position to do that for many years,” Tufenkci said.
The Turkish minister also said that by enhancing trade relations of both sides, Qatar and Turkey can work together through investments in other countries.
“Large scale energy infrastructure and investments are important for us and important development projects will be implemented in the upcoming terms.
“In that regard, both countries’ economies complement each other; hence we can enter third country markets with investments. The Turkish private sector, especially in the field of construction, has been quite successful in accessing global markets,” Tufenkci said.
Tufenkci also emphasised on Turkey’s support for Qatar during the ongoing economic embargo imposed on the country. He said Turkey had also faced challenges in previous years but had managed to recover its economy. “In 2016, Turkey stood against an attempted coup, but with the help of the private sector, Turkey’s economy was back on track. In the third quarter of 2017, Turkey recorded an 11.1% economic growth, which is a record achievement,” he said.
Speaking on the occasion, Sheikh Khalifa said the embargo imposed on Qatar “was a great incentive for the Qatari private sector to expand its activities in the economic process.”
“Turkish goods and commodities have played an important role in stabilising the Qatari market, and we hope to continue the development of these partnerships to achieve the desired economic benefit the two countries in the long term,” Sheikh Khalifa said.
He added: “I hope that this economic forum will achieve its objectives in enhancing co-operation between businessmen in both countries and contribute to the establishment of new partnerships and alliances.Following a 30% growth in Qatar-Turkey bilateral trade in the fourth quarter of 2017, trade volume between the two countries is expected to “increase further” this year, he said.
Sheikh Khalifa lauded the “growing co-operation” between the two countries’ public and private sectors.
In 2017, he said Qatar Chamber and the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey signed an agreement to enhance bilateral and economic ties between Qatar and Turkey.
“We will soon sign a new trade agreement with Turkey, which will serve our commercial trade in Qatar,” Sheikh Khalifa noted, adding that Qatar-Turkey relations “are growing,” particularly in the banking sector, real estate, and other industries.
In the long-term, Sheikh Khalifa said the trade agreements would lead to the establishment of more joint ventures between both the countries.
There are 186 Turkish companies working on joint ventures in the Qatari market, in addition to 19 Turkish companies with full ownership of Turkish capital worth QR63mn in the fields of infrastructure, construction and contracting, engineering consulting, trade and electrical work, he said.
“In recent years, there has been a tangible and accelerated strengthening of co-operation between our two countries. This has been greatly reflected in the co-operation between business sectors in Qatar and Turkey, which has led to an increase in trade volume to reach QR3.9bn in 2017 and the rise in imports from Turkey by 30% compared to 2016,” Sheikh Khalifa said.
He stressed that Qatar’s economy had continued to grow, despite the economic blockade imposed on Qatar. Citing official figures, Sheikh Khalifa said real GDP growth accelerated from 1.8% in the second quarter of 2017 to 3.7% in the third quarter of the same year.
Qatar, through Turkish commercial vehicle manufacturer BMC, will be involved in the production of Turkey’s first locally-built automobile, according to an official of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB).
Speaking at the event, TOBB president Rifat Hisarciklioglu said Qatar is part of a consortium involved in the production Turkey’s “first local and national automobile.”
Citing another achievement, Hisarciklioglu noted that the Turkish government was able to create jobs for 1.5mn people in Turkey in 2017.