- Qatar’s trade policies were reviewed before 164 World Trade Organization member States.
- During the opening session, H.E. the Minister of Commerce and Industry emphasized that Qatar ascribes high value to the Trade Policy Review mechanism as it supports a direct and transparent approach to clarifying members´ policies.
- Qatar’s commitment to the rule-based system of trade reflects its keenness to make extensive use of this system as it moves forward to meet its development goals stated in the Qatar National Vision 2030.
- The non-mining and quarrying sector captured 66% of GDP in 2021 Q1.
Doha – Tuesday, April 6, 2021:
H.E. Mr. Ali bin Ahmed Al Kuwari, Minister of Commerce and Industry chaired today the State delegation participating in the opening session of Qatar’s third Trade Policy Review meetings at the World Trade Organization (WTO), convened in Geneva on April 6-8, 2021, during which Qatar’s trade policies were reviewed before 164 WTO member States.
At the start of his opening speech, H.E. the Minister of Commerce and Industry extended thanks and appreciation to Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, WTO Director-General, and the WTO Secretariat for their work pursuant to Qatar’s Trade Policy Review. H.E. further expressed appreciation to the Secretariat’s effort and leadership in bringing the exercise in question to a fruitful conclusion and thus allowing Qatar to continue to honor its commitments. H.E. also commended the fruitful cooperation with Mr. Willy Alfaro, the Trade Policy Review Director.
Furthermore, H.E. praised the efforts of H.E. Ambassador Tan Hung Seng, the Permanent Representative of Singapore to the World Trade Organization and H.E. Ambassador Athaliah Molokomme, Chairwoman of the Trade Policy Review Body and the Permanent Representative of Botswana. H.E. Mr. Al Kuwari also applauded their Excellencies’ directions for the success of the proceedings of this review.
During the session, H.E. stressed that Qatar ascribed high value to the Trade Policy Review mechanism, as it supports a direct and transparent approach to clarifying members´ policies, options, and positions, and simultaneously provides valuable information to the private sector.
H.E. assured that Qatar remains committed to the rule-based system of trade, not only due to its adoption of transparency and enhancing predictability in international trade but also because of its keenness to make extensive use of this system as it moves forward to meet its development goals in the Qatar National Vision 2030.
H.E. pointed out that since its last Trade Policy Review in 2014, Qatar had relied extensively on the multilateral trading system. The multilateral trading system plays an important role in tackling many challenges, especially with regard to the mechanisms available to settle trade-related disputes, providing appropriate policies for the private sector, and continuing to promote economic development through trade facilitation and investment promotion.
H.E. said that Qatar had realized the importance of enhancing the role of international trade in working for its future development. Thus, Qatar has been keen to further liberalize its domestic markets to foreign investors across the economy, particularly in knowledge-intensive areas and real estate.
Furthermore, H.E. clarified that Qatar had sought to achieve these objectives by creating an investment promotion agency, overhauling the public procurement framework, enacting a new foreign investment law, and amending its free zone regime. H.E. stressed that these efforts had contributed to reducing transaction costs across the economy, a factor that complements the trade and investment facilitation measures.
In the context of talking about the measures Qatar has taken to limit the repercussions of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, H.E. Mr. Al Kuwari said that the State had responded proactively to protect public health and the economy with a package of preventive measures, monetary aid, and tax facilitation measures, that included a QR75 billion aid package, a six-month payment deferral on all loans with the Qatar Development Bank, a six-month exemption from electricity and water fees for certain sectors, as well as a temporary custom duty-exemption on food and medical supplies, and increased oversight to curb monopolistic pricing practices.
Additionally, H.E. Mr. Al Kuwari affirmed that the difficulties the State faced had only served to strengthen the Government’s resolve to move forward with its national development goals. To this end, the National Development Strategy document for the period 2018-2022 has been updated to refine the focus of Qatar’s development plans at the sector level, in light of the Planning and Statistics Authority’s studies and reports. Moreover, the review has also served to further align Qatar’s development goals with the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, H.E. mentioned.
H.E. explained that in the framework of paving the way for achieving economic development, a new Food Security Department was established under the Ministry of Municipality and Environment to oversee the implementation of Qatar’s food strategy.
The State also launched the General Tax Authority, and the Central Tender Committee was eliminated, as part of the general overhaul of Qatar’s public procurement framework, in addition to creating the Investment Promotion Agency, H.E. added.
H.E. Mr. Al Kuwari pointed to the State’s efforts in terms of protecting intellectual property rights. Qatar has updated its legislation on trademark protection, enforced existing laws on the protection of trade indications, trade names, geographical and industrial designs and templates, as well as implemented electronic patent registration to streamline processes.
H.E. Mr. Al Kuwari stated that the private sector and foreign investors wishing to establish themselves in Qatar could make use of Information Technology tools, biotechnology, and artificial intelligence, stressing the State’s keenness to create a business and investment-friendly environment.
H.E. Mr. Al Kuwari further mentioned that Qatar had continued to implement measures to facilitate trade, by signing several Service Level Agreements with domestic agencies to streamline the issuing of technical, health, and environmental approvals on imported goods as well as establishing platforms and processes to handle the online submission of documentation.
Qatar is also working on several additional measures to further facilitate trade flow, boost investment, and provide logistical support in terms of exports and imports, H.E. added.
On the legislative environment in Qatar, H.E. referred to the new law regulating the investment of non-Qatari capital in the economic activity enacted in 2019, which allows foreign ownership of up to 100% of shared capital. The State has also issued a law that enables foreign investment in real estate and allows Real Estate Investment Trusts to operate in Qatar through the Qatar Financial Centre.
H.E. Mr. Al Kuwari further touched on the law regulating public-private partnerships. This law enacted recently aims at promoting competition, increasing private sector participation in infrastructure development and management, and encouraging the public sector to decrease public expenditure and increase efficiency in project delivery and management.
In the conclusion of the session, H.E. the Minister of Commerce and Industry affirmed the continuation of efforts to diversify the economic activity to achieve Qatar’s economic development goals. H.E. pointed out that the non-mining and quarrying sector had captured 66% of GDP in 2021 Q1.
The session featured the participation of Qatar’s delegation, which included representatives from the General Secretariat for the Council of Ministers, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Municipality and Environment, the Ministry of Transport and Communications, the Planning and Statistics Authority, Qatar Central Bank, Qatar Petroleum, General Authority of Customs, and Qatar Chamber.
It should be noted that the Trade Policy Review of the Member States is one of the WTO mechanisms. The WTO undertakes periodically reviewing the trade policies of its Member States in a process through which it assesses the extent of the Member States’ commitment to implementing the requirements of the agreements emanating from the organization. Qatar’s Trade Policy Review was defined to take place on a six-year basis. The review includes devising two reports on trade policies: one by the Secretariat, and the other by the government.
Qatar’s first Trade Policy Review was conducted in 2005, while the second took place in 2014. Qatar’s participation in Trade Policy Review meetings was met by a wide range of positive feedback by Member States, who valued Qatar’s national efforts aimed at achieving economic development and developing the business environment at home.
Source: Ministry of Commerce and Industry