By MOHAMMAD SHOEB
DOHA: The visiting Deputy Prime Minister of Portugal, Paulo de Sacadura Cabral Portas and Qatar’s Minister of Economy and Commerce,
H E Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani, both expressed their keen interest to expand areas of mutual cooperation to further deepen economic ties to enhance volume of bilateral trade and investments.
Both sides yesterday admitted that the current volume of bilateral trade is “below ambition” and a there are “huge untapped opportunities” of trade and investments between the two nations, which can help enhance the trade volume for mutual benefits.
The Deputy PM and the Qatar’s Minister of Trade and Commerce co-headed the First Session of ‘Qatar-Portuguese Joint Commission on Economic, Commercial & Technical Cooperation’.
The volume of bilateral trade in 2013 stood at QR676m, which, according to both the leaders, was low and have great scope for growth.
Portas said that since the signing of the agreement in 2011, Portugal’s exports to Qatar increased by 13 percent, while its imports from the energy-rich Gulf state soared by approximately 100 percent.
Sheikh Ahmed added: “Bilateral trade between the two countries is below our ambition. This shows the need to enhance the trade volume by deepening mutual cooperation through expanding and exploring more opportunities of trade and investments.”
He said that industry chambers from both the countries can play significant role in increasing bilateral trade, especially by facilitating private investments.
At the meeting, Qatar sought Portugal’s support at the World Trade Organisation for an initiative for which Qatar is striving to declare liquefied natural gas (LNG) and its derivatives as environment-friendly products.
The Minister said that it is a “good opportunity” for both the countries to strengthen economic relations for mutual interests.
He said the private sector companies from Portugal will be extended all needful support and facilities from the Qatari side to take part in Qatar’s efforts to transform and diversify its hydrocarbon-based economy into a knowledge-based society in line with National Vision 2030, an ambitious goal set to achieve sustainable growth and developed.
Sheikh Ahmed, inviting Portuguese investment in Qatar, said: “Foreign capital can own up to 49 percent stake in a business entity in Qatar, however, with approval from concerned authorities, some priority sectors can have 100 percent foreign direct investments.”
The Minister also sought Portuguese investments in Qatar’s agro-business industry, especially in the field of technology-intensive sectors. He said that here is a good opportunity to enhance mutual cooperation, and suggested to include and focus on important sectors such as infrastructure, banking, energy, agriculture, education, tourism, culture and arts in future Sessions of the Joint Commission.
The Qatar-Portuguese Joint Commission Session was outcome of the cooperation agreement singed between the two states on March 7, 2011. Seeking Qatari investments in the cash-strapped Portugal economy, the Deputy PM, said: “Since the signing of the agreement two years ago, Portugal economy has made significant improvements and managed to bring some tangible development in different areas, including reduction in (sovereign) debt, unemployment and trade deficit.”
Speaking about the first meeting of the Commission, Portas said: “Both the countries have huge potential to expand mutual cooperation. This meeting will activate the process of the implementation of economic agreements signed between the two nations. We also intend to form Joint Committees to further deepen economic ties.”
He noted that the objective is not only to increase trade exchange between the two sides, but to support a vibrant economic and trade relations in all its forms. The Peninsula