The UK Minister of State for Trade Policy George Hollingbery said Qatar is an important trade partner to the UK, especially as the two countries enjoy strong trade ties and Qatar is the third biggest export market for the UK across the Middle East and North Africa.
On the sidelines of second UK-Qatar Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO) meeting, Hollingbery, in an exclusive interview with QNA, said that in 2017 the trade volume between the UK and Qatar reached £6.3bn, registering an increase of 17.1% compared to 2016.
UK exports to Qatar in 2017 also stood at £3.4bn (up 9.6% from 2016), while UK imports from Qatar were £2.9bn (up 27.3% from 2016). The minister said the second JETCO meeting represents an important opportunity to complete the achievements made during the first session of the committee, adding that it also reflects the two countries' keenness to strengthen their co-operation and implement their joint goals.
He also hoped for further joint efforts to develop trade relations and promote prosperity in both countries.
The Qatari market is full of huge opportunities that could open the door to strengthening business partnerships in the UK and Qatar and it is important to raise awareness on those opportunities in the UK community whether through bringing UK companies to Qatar to benefit from these opportunities or by introducing these opportunities in the UK which helps in attracting and encouraging UK companies to come to Qatar to achieve the desired mutual benefit, he said.
He highlighted Qatar's interest in the UK goods and service, which is reflected in the value of exports amounted to £3.39bn last year, reiterating the continued support of UK companies which are interested in trading with Qatar, including the companies seeking to benefit from the available opportunities in light of Qatar's preparation to host 2022 FIFA World Cup.
On the Qatar-UK Business and Investment Forum held in London and Birmingham, he said they resulted in a platform and a clear ground through which both sides could build on the discussions that took place and bring greater benefits in the future.
With regard to the unfair siege imposed on Qatar, the UK minister affirmed that only five hours after his first visit to Qatar, he realised that the country had achieved amazing results despite the challenges it faced during this crisis, especially with regards to dealing quickly and effectively with the search for alternatives, providing supply chains for existing projects and maintaining the daily lifestyle of those residing in the state.
He stressed that dealing with the crisis with such courage is indicative of the wise policy adopted by the Qatari leadership not only in addressing the repercussions of the siege, but also in benefiting from this crisis and turning it into potential opportunities through which to deepen political and commercial relations with foreign countries.
Regarding the areas in which the UK can assist Qatar or even enhance joint co-operation, he said that the UK is providing very major services, as 150 years ago UK was the heart of the global economy, especially in industry.
This has changed now as it currently provides 80% of the service system and 20% of the industry, it focuses on services in many aspects of engineering, design, accounting work and other services, these services are provided at the highest international standards.
He highlighted the importance of enhancing co-operation between the public and private sectors in both countries and further strengthening strategic partnerships to serve the common interests of the two countries.
Cybersecurity is one of the ways of joint co-operation between the UK and Qatar, which will have special focus after a delegation of 11 UK companies which offer innovations in cyberspace recently visited Qatar to explore challenges and opportunities in the financial services sector.
The visit was the first major action taken under a memorandum of understanding signed between the Department for International Trade Defense and Security Organisation and Qatar Central Bank.
Since 2015, the Department for International Trade has launched Sports High Value Campaign (HVC ) to offer direct support of £940mn to UK exports for Qatar World Cup and aims for at least a further £500mn before the competition kicks-off in 2022.
UK companies will be able to bid on various contracts related to the World Cup.
Qatar is currently working with the UK for the membership of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and other UK certificates.
In addition, the UK is one of Qatar's major investment destinations, with more than £35bn in the UK.
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