(MENAFN- Gulf Times) The State of Qatar continues to support and empower small- and medium-sized projects in response to its current and future needs with the best international quality standards to support the national economy.
This comes within the framework of a comprehensive vision and ambitious plans to diversify national income sources and to move from an oil-based economy to a diversified and sustainable economy in which small and medium industries play a central role in achieving the country's strategic development goals.
In line with this, Qatar has created an appropriate environment for investors by issuing laws and regulations to encourage and motivate the local and foreign private sector to invest in the industrial sector in co-operation with other entities' efforts such as the Ministry of Energy and Industry, Ministry of Economy and Commerce, Qatar Development Bank and others.
'The industrial strategy of the State of Qatar aims to speed up the growth rate of small- and medium-sized industries, which have a greater ability to increase the contribution of the industrial sector to GDP, Eng. Yousef al-Emadi, Director of the Department of Industrial Zones at the Ministry of Energy and Industry, told Qatar News Agency (QNA).
He said the Ministry of Energy and Industry was preparing the manufacturing sector to achieve self-sufficiency and to diversify the sources of income as well as to make this sector a main source of the national income streams.
He said the ministry's efforts resulted in a steady increase in the number of initial approvals issued to many projects and in the number of final licences. The number of factories registered increased from 334 in 2000 to 707 by the end of 2016, a rise of 211.7%, while the number of workers in these factories is about 88,600 workers and technicians.
Al-Emadi pointed out that the area of small and medium industries is the first of its kind in Qatar, occupying an area of more than 10mn sq m, of which 712 were allocated for industrial projects.
According to data from the Ministry of Energy and Industry, the number of factories that started production reached about 260, with 79 projects in the final stages to start, and 279 projects on the waiting list.
Al-Emadi also pointed out that the ministry was in the process of completing the administrative procedures with the competent authorities in the State to allocate a land to expand the current area, adding that once these procedures are completed, the expansion process will begin.
The initiatives launched by the Ministry of Economy and Trade in recent years have been an important step in the development and settlement of the small and medium industries sector to enhance its contribution to the national economy.
The ministry studied several economic sectors and evaluated the degree of competition in them.
Proposals were submitted to the competent authorities.
These proposals related to activating fair competition mechanisms, encouraging investors, facilitating procedures for activating projects, removing barriers to market access and breaking the monopoly.
Because of these efforts, Qatar has advanced ranks in various international reports, as it ranked second in the world in terms of providing a stable macroeconomic environment, the eighth in the world economic performance index and the 18th in the 2016 Global Competitiveness Index.
The Ministry of Economy and Trade has been keen on issuing legal regulations that have contributed to the development of the business environment in Qatar in general, including the issuance of the new Commercial Companies Law, which facilitated the establishment of small and medium companies by cancelling minimum capital's requirements to establish limited liability companies, which constitute a large proportion of companies that are established by small investors and entrepreneurs.
The ministry also launched the 'One Stop Service for Investor, which aims to simplify and expedite the procedures of all start-up transactions in front of investors and businessmen and stimulates the private sector and overcomes the obstacles facing them.
In an effort to improve and develop the business environment in the country, the Ministry of Economy, in co-operation with the Ministry of Municipality and the Environment, launched an initiative to identify and facilitate the procedures and conditions of construction licenses for business centres and benefits that support businessmen, small and medium enterprises and starters.
The legal and institutional framework for public-private partnership was also established through the Technical Committee to Encourage the Private Sector in the Economic Development Projects of the Ministry of Economy and Commerce, which includes representatives of 10 entities in the State.
The committee is responsible for submitting proposals for economic projects, providing means to support and motivate the private sector, and setting policies, standards and controls for the stimulus programmes.
In addition, it supervises the implementation of stimulus projects and the participation of the private sector in the economic development projects in the country.
Through the Ministry of Economy and Trade, Qatar has launched pioneering initiatives to support and motivate the field of private sector, such as the establishment of four low-cost storage areas that provide the market with about 2mn sq m of storage space rapidly and at competitive prices to suit their demands in 2018 and 2019.
These projects are expected to stimulate the private sector to inject investments of QR2.8bn in this field.
In the same context, four logistic areas are being implemented to meet the shortage of storage space by providing 8mn sq m to cover the need of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and secure logistical services.
These projects are expected to bring private investment estimated at more than QR24bn.
For its part, Qatar Development Bank (QDB) plays a major role in promoting the localisation of the industrial sector, either through partnership with those entities involved in implementing development projects in the country or by providing direct support to help include Qatari manufacturers in the supply chains accredited by the authorities that undertake development projects in the State, especially infrastructure projects.
The aim of these efforts is to increase the dependence on the local industrial sector, increase the capacity of the Qatari products, enhance the participation of local factories in development projects and encourage existing and new national investors to invest in establishing new factories that contribute to providing the requirements of current and future state's projects.
In this regard, QDB, in co-operation with the Public Works Authority (Ashghal), has announced the launch of the qualifying initiative ‘Ta'heel'. The initiative was launched on the sidelines of the second edition of the ‘Buy Local Product' exhibition.
The initiative seeks to adopt the products of national factories and provide more opportunities for Qatari manufacturers to participate in the implementation of Ashghal's existing and future construction and engineering programmes and projects.
It also aims at encouraging more national investors to establish new manufacturing projects to contribute to State's projects, depending on Qatari capacities, resources, industries and human resources.
The initiative includes all projects, whether they are bridges, roads, school buildings, health facilities or sewerage networks, with the aim of exploiting local products in the projects implemented by Ashghal Authority by 70% to 80%. Efforts to provide great support to the industrial sector have been fruitful, as Qatari industries characterised by quality and competitiveness as well as Qatari manufacturers with accumulated experience have emerged.
Data indicate that the production of local industries ranges from 30% to 35% of the products imported by the state, while the number of industrial establishments reached 723 facilities this year, thanks to the integrated support from various stakeholders.
Qatar Development Bank has a distinct experience through its export programme ‘Tasdeer' which works with Qatari manufacturers.
Since its launch in 2011, the programme helped Qatari non-oil exports to reach 14% of the total exports.
The export rate before the programme did not exceed 6%. While 250 SMEs have access to a large number of markets and established a solid footprint, QDB seeks to increase the sector's contribution and introduce new knowledge-based industries.
The bank's financing portfolio reached QR7.5bn.
The bank is committed to financing all projects that contribute to the self-sufficiency and achieve the value-added for the local economy.
It also provides training, consulting, logistics and export services.
Qatar Development Bank not only provides support to Qatari manufacturers, but also promotes their exports through Tasdeer programme by facilitating the participation of exporters in international exhibitions known to the target markets and allowing them to participate as a group within the Qatari pavilion held in local, regional and international exhibitions.
After the conducting of Qatari marketing study in the target markets, Tasdeer programme organises meetings of consensus between Qatari exporters and international buyers.
Among the other qualitative initiatives in the industrial sector is 'own a factory within 72 hours in Qatar, which is a part of the second phase of the one-stop initiative in which 250 investment opportunities were offered in the industrial sector.
The initiative witnessed a huge turnout of 9,349 investors.
The ‘Ta'heel' initiative covers eight major sectors: food, paper, medical, chemical, electrical, machinery and automotive, rubber and plastics, and metals.
The 250 investment opportunities in the initiative have attracted a large number of investors, especially the food industry with 3,168 investors.
The number of registered investors in the mineral industry was 1,334, the paper industry 1,086, the rubber and plastics industry 941, the chemical industries 826, the medical industries 710, the electrical industries 732, the machinery and the vehicles 552 investors.
The percentage of Qatari investors registered for investment opportunities through the initiative was nearly 85%. There were also more than 3,000 investors from 52 countries that applied for investment opportunities.
The initiative supports attracting investments by simplifying the process of licensing projects, giving a wide range of privileges to the investor, and the possibility of issuing licenses within 72 hours, in addition to the readiness and the possibility of obtaining visas immediately, and the readiness of industrial infrastructure of water, electricity, gas and roads.
Priority is to procurement with local manufacturing.
The initiative provides the investor with privileges, including the means to promote the export of local industries, and provide guarantees for the investor, such as exemption from income tax for ten years and customs exemptions for raw materials and provide support of 10% of the national product and government products, in addition to financial facilities provided through Qatar Development Bank (QDB).
As a result of these efforts, the private sector has developed clear visions and ambitious plans for localisation of industries and raising the number of local manufacturers to contribute to self-sufficiency of Qatar's industrial needs.
Chairman of the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry (QCCI) HE Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani told QNA that the current trend is to encourage businessmen to settle more industries, especially in the food and medicine production sector.
He said that businessmen have been given new benefits, incentives and facilities to start their projects, in line with the initiative launched by the Coordinating Committee to facilitate industrial investment in Qatar under the slogan ‘Own a factory within 72 hours', which also included offering industrial opportunities in various sectors.
At the same time, the Chamber plays an important role in promoting economic and trade co-operation with various countries around the world, whether by organising visits for Qatari businessmen or by receiving foreign trade delegations.
It also seeks to sign more bilateral co-operation agreements with various chambers of commerce to facilitate investment and enhance trade exchange and the continued flow of various products into the Qatari market.
HE Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani said that there is a full co-ordination between the Chamber and government authorities to facilitate investment in Qatar, which will contribute to the establishment of new industries, feeding the Qatari market with various products and exporting the surplus abroad.
He pointed out that the non-oil productive sector occupies a key position in the framework of the development and resettlement of the industrial sector.
He explained that 'non-oil exports to Qatari companies achieved during the first half of this year about QR8.6bn by issuing about 29,941 certificates for exports destined for about 66 countries around the world.
According to the Chamber's data, the total value of non-oil exports amounted to QR793.3mn during June.
The exports went to 56 countries, 14 of which are Arab countries and 11 European countries, including Turkey, 13 Asian, 14 African, 2 North American and 1 South American, as well as Australia.
He said that the Sultanate of Oman topped the list of countries receiving Qatari non-oil exports in June 2017 with total exports worth about QR297.26mn, representing 37.45% of the country's total non-oil exports during the month.
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