(MENAFN- The Peninsula) The Peninsula
Doha: In the presence of H E Pedro Sánchez, Prime Minister of Spain; Minister of Commerce and Industry H E Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Qassim Al Thani; and H E Reyes Maroto, Minister of Industry, Trade, and Tourism of Spain, inaugurated the Qatari-Spanish Business Meeting, organised at the headquarters of the Spanish Confederation of Business Organizations (CEOE) in Madrid.
The opening session of the business meeting was attended by Antonio Garamendi, President of CEOE; Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani, Chairman of the Qatari Businessmen Association; Jose Luis Bonet, President of the Spain Chamber of Commerce; Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani, Chairman of Qatar Chamber; Ignacio Galán, Co-President of the Qatari- Spain Business Committee from the Spanish side, and Sheikh Dr. Khalid bin Thani Al Thani, Co- President of the Qatari-Spain Business Committee from the Qatari side.
At the onset of his opening speech, the Minister of Commerce and Industry expressed his sincere appreciation and gratitude to the Kingdom of Spain for its warm reception and hospitality, shining a spotlight at the strong, solid relations between the two countries. He touched on the Qatari-Spanish economic relations, pointing out that they had witnessed significant development during the past years. The volume of trade exchange between the two countries witnessed growth of about 44 percent between 2020 and 2021 to reach around $1.2bn last year.
On the investment front, the number of Spanish companies operating in Qatar has reached about 220 companies that are active in a number of economic and vital fields, he further stated, highlighting that Qatar had made investments in the strategic sectors that support the Spanish economy, including those of tourism, sports, and real estate.
He added that the agreements signed between the two sides during the past years had also contributed to consolidating Qatari-Spanish bilateral relations.
Moreover, he expressed his happiness with establishing the Qatari-Spanish Business Council, aimed at providing a platform and a starting point for enhancing economic and investment cooperation.
“We are aware of the importance of partnership in ensuring strengthening interstate bilateral relations. Therefore, the State of Qatar considers the Kingdom of Spain a promising strategic partner given the significant economic factors that characterise our two nations,” Minister of Commerce and Industry said.
In this context, the Minister referred to the position of Qatar as a leading investment destination in the region and the world, owing to its advanced business environment based on a stimulating legislative and administrative system and a robust infrastructure designed and built according to the highest international standards.
These advantages instilled the State of Qatar in a strategic position as a logistical gateway for expanding towards markets in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.
In this regard, he drew attention to the role played by Qatari ports, including Hamad Port, a key commercial port in the region. Many other major institutions play a significant role in promoting Qatar's economic openness, and attracting major companies and investors from all over the world, he added.
These gains contributed to enhancing the strength and durability of the Qatari economy, he further stated, adding that according to the latest World Bank estimates, the Qatari economy was expected to grow by 4.9 percent in 2022.
In this context, he referred to the remarkable performance of the non-oil sectors, whose contribution to the country's GDP amounted to about 63.2 percent in 2021.
Moreover, he pointed out the efforts made by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to develop the contribution of the manufacturing sector. He also referred to the rapid development witnessed by the telecommunications and information technology sector in Qatar at the level of technical infrastructure and fifth generation optical networks, which contributed to Qatar having a leading position in the MENA region as reflected in the Government Electronic and Mobile Services (GEMS) Maturity Index for the year 2021, according to a report issued by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA).
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Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Qassim Al Thani and Reyes Maroto witnessed the signing ceremony of two MoUs between Qatar Chamber and each of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce and the Madrid Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services.
In the signing, the Qatari side was represented by Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani, Chairman of the Qatar Chamber. From the Spanish side, the MoUs were signed by José Luis Bonet, President of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce and Ángel Asensio, President of the Madrid Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services.
The MoUs aim to strengthen bridges of dialogue between the Qatari and Spanish business sectors and to consolidate cooperation in the fields of trade, investment, services, as well as other economic fields.
The Minister of Commerce and Industry attended the signing of an MoU between the Investment Promotion Agency of Qatar and Iberdrola Company, aimed at establishing a global innovation center to support digital transformation Qatar. The said MoU was signed by Sheikh Ali Alwaleed Al-Thani, Chief Executive Officer of the Investment Promotion Agency of Qatar, from the Qatari side. As for the Spanish side, it was signed by Santiago Bañales, Managing Director of Iberdrola Innovation in the Middle East.
The MoU aims to strengthen cooperation in the field of digital services, as well as to tap into the potential of the research, development, and innovation environment in the State of Qatar. The Minister of Commerce and Industry also saw the signing of an MoU between Hassad Food Company and Integra Agricultura Y Tecnologia, aimed at recycling the surplus agricultural production.
From the Qatari side, the MoU was signed by Eng. Mohammed Badr Al Sada, CEO of Hassad Food Company, while from the Spanish side, it was signed by Esteban Barrachina, CEO of Integra Agricultura Y Tecnología.
The MoU in question seeks to develop innovative local projects that contribute to achieving food security for the State of Qatar, preserving local agricultural resources, and increasing local production of fodder.
The meeting featured a dialogue session on investment opportunities in the State of Qatar, during which visual presentations were made by Sheikh Ali Al Waleed Al Thani, CEO of the Investment Promotion Agency Qatar; Yousuf Mohamed Al-Jaida, CEO and Board Member of the Qatar Financial Centre; Mohammed bin Hamad Al Thani, Deputy CEO of Qatar Free Zones Authority and Yosouf Al Salehi, Executive Director of Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP).
The presentations highlighted the performance of the national economy, the investment opportunities available in Qatar, as well as Qatar's business environment, advanced logistical infrastructure, and promising economic sectors.