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Q
atar’s economy has undergone several changes over the past years. The aim of such changes was to make it more adaptable to the fluctuations of the world economy and to create a more solid and diversified economic infrastructure which would safeguard the country against the risks of a single source of national income, namely, oil and gas.

Considered one of the most dynamic economies in the region, Qatar’s economy recorded noticeable real growth over the last five years. This positive trend culminated in a budget surplus of QR 497 million in 2001/2002.

The gross domestic production, meanwhile, recorded a growth of 34.9%   in the fiscal year 2001/2002 to reach a total of QR 58823 million compared with QR 32976 million in 1996.

This growth has also led to an improvement in the current account surplus of the balance of payments, keeping inflation under control and ensuring stability of the exchange rate.

Per capita


 
Qatar has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world, which stood at US $ 18789 in 2000, while the average annual growth rate reached 19 % at current prices.

Most of this growth is attributed to an increase in oil prices and an increase of almost 30% in the country’s oil production.

Other economic sectors recorded a more modest growth rate of 8 %, with the industrial sector taking the lead followed by banking and communications.

Foreign investments

Qatari economy is surging ahead along a comprehensive development strategy. This strategy is geared towards further consolidation of trade relations on international and regional levels, giving the private sector more opportunities to contribute to the development process, and creating a more attractive environment for foreign investment.

In 2002 foreign investment in Qatar amounted to US$ 28 billion. A plan has been devised to attract a further US$ 15 billion over the coming 5 years.

The table below shows the Gross National Production for 1996 and 2000 / 2001.

Economic Sectors

1996

2000/2001

 

Gross  
National
Production

QR 32976 million

QR 58823
 million

Agriculture &
Fishing

QR 290 million

QR 265 million

 

Downstream
Industries

QR 2499 million

QR 3450 million

 

Services

QR 7529 million

QR 8500 million

 

Oil

QR 12773 million

QR 33580 million (2001)

 

Annual
Growth Rate

---

19%

 

Trade, Restaurants           &  Hotels

 

QR 2544 million

QR 3250 million

 

Foreign  Investments

---

QR 28 billion

 

Financial,  Insurance
& real estate

QR 3423 million

QR 4768 million

 

Total Exports

QR 13952 million

QR 35658 million(2001)

 

Total Imports

QR 9406 million

QR 9009 million(2001)

 

Commercial Balance

QR 4546 million

QR 26649 million (2001)

 

 






















 

 



Free economy

In the commercial field, the Qatari economy has to stand up to the challenges of sweeping globalization and open markets.

Qatar fully embraces the principles of market economy. In recent years it has liberalized trade and economy and accelerated privatization.

In 1994, Qatar became the 121st signatory to the General Agreement on Trade and Tariff (GATT) which is now known as the World Trade Organization.

The Ministry of Economy and Commerce was created, after being separated from the Ministry of Finance,  to oversee  economic priorities. At the same time, trade and commercial laws were promulgated to encourage business initiatives and entrepreneurship through an attractive custom tariff and taxation environment for foreign and Arab investment.

Foreign Trade

Qatar’s friendly relations with other countries have helped, to a great extent, its foreign trade exchanges especially in the Asian markets. 

Statistics point out that the total value of foreign trade dropped by 1.3 % (QR 700m), in 2001, compared with 1.51 % in 2000 with an overall total of QR 52.7 billion. This resulted in an increase in export value by 6 % (QR 39.1 billion) in 2001, and in import value by 15.3 % (QR 13.6 billion). 

Exports

Ever busy ports of Qatar
 

Oil and fuel account for 93.3 % of Qatar’s exports, followed by petrochemicals at 4.1 % and manufactured goods at 1.2 %.

Japan is the biggest single importer of crude oil from Qatar, while China and India are the biggest importers of fertilizers and petrochemicals.

In 2000 Qatar’s exports to Arab countries totaled $ 631,8 million,  against $ 594 million in 1999, recording  an increase of 6.4 %. 

The United Arab Emirates tops the list of Arab importers with 74.5% of Qatar’s total exports to the Arab countries, followed by Saudi Arabia (14 %), Yemen (2.6%), Egypt (1.8%), Bahrain (1.3%), and Kuwait (1.1%). 

Qatar exports steel and iron to the GCC countries. However, the signing of an agreement with the United Arab Emirates for exporting Qatari gas to the UAE through a pipeline was a milestone in Qatar’s economic integration with its partners in the GCC.  Two similar agreements will be concluded with Bahrain and Kuwait in the near future.   

Imports

Port of Ras  Laffan    

Qatar imports totaled about QR 9009 million in 2000/2001, compared with QR 9406 million in 1996. Most imports come from the United States, Britain, Japan and France.

The key imports are related to capital projects of liquefied gas, industrial infrastructure, electronics, cars and other manufactured goods.

Balance of Payments

The surplus in balance of trade increased from QR 18,1 billion in 1999 to around QR 31,5 billion in 2000. The substantial increase was due to an increase of more than six fold in the country's exports. While Qatar's exports increased by QR 15,9 billion,  imports increased by as little as QR 2,5 billion. 

The surplus in  the balance of trade increased by QR 11,8 billion in 2000 over the previous year. In 1999 the increase was QR 9,6 billion, but it stood at QR 19,7 billion in 2001.  

The net private and official capital transfers, such as foreign loans and their interest, as well as investment transactions recorded a deficit of QR 6,9 billion, compared to a surplus of one billion Qatari Riyal in 1999.  

Chamber of Commerce

The Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry was established in 1963. It is one of the oldest chambers in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

The chamber was initially run and controlled by the government. In 1990 law no. 11 proclaimed it an independent body representing the different commercial, industrial and agricultural interests of its private sector members.

Among many other functions, the chamber gathers, classifies and publishes information and statistics of interest to those who work in the fields of commerce, industry or agriculture.

The chamber also supplies the public sector with the necessary information, figures or advisory services regarding commercial, industrial and agricultural affairs.

Furthermore, it renders assistance as a consultative organ in affairs such as establishing stock exchanges, markets and organizing agricultural, industrial or commercial fairs. The chamber also plays a consultative role in giving concessions in public utilities.

Fairs and Conferences

Qatar International Exhibition Center
 

Qatar organizes a large number of international exhibitions and business conferences with the aim of boosting its commercial ties with other states.

Such activities provide the private sector with the necessary means to promote and initiate commercial relations and to reap economic benefits.

In 2000 Qatar hosted the International Conference for Natural Gas GASTECH
, and in November 2001 it hosted the fourth ministerial conference for the World Trade Organization.

Qatar also hosted the Fourth Economic Conference for the Middle East and North Africa in 1997.

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Investment

Qatar, an emerging investment attraction
 

Q
atar enjoys a unique investment environment thanks to its attractive investment legislations, its social and political stability, strong and balanced ties with all states in the region and its strategic geographical location.

In order to keep the momentum of economic development, Qatar adopts flexible economic policies designed to encourage local and foreign investment.

This includes a well-developed infrastructure, nominal land-lease prices in the industrial areas and exemption from duties on imported machinery.

Foreign investors are allowed to own 100% of projects in the agriculture and education sectors.

Attractive environment 

Qatar houses modern shopping centers
 

Qatari legislation relevant to business activities was designed to create an investment environment attractive to foreign capital, conducive to economic integration with neighboring countries and ultimately capable of safeguarding the national economy against any harmful impact.

In 2000 law number 2 went into effect to organize real estate ownership by GCC citizens. The legislation allows a GCC national to own three housing units of not more than 3,000 square meters.

The same law stipulates that naturalized Qatari's can have ownership of real estate only five years after acquiring the Qatari citizenship.

Law number 13,  issued in 2000, organizes foreign capital investment in various economic sectors. The law determines investments by foreigners in cash or kind or equities that have financial value.

It also determines the scope of assets imported for investment purposes, profits, yields and reserves accrued from foreign investment in a certain field and other non- corporeal rights such as licenses, patents and trademarks registered in the country. 

The law allows foreigners to invest in all sectors of the national economy provided they have Qatari partners holding a share of not less than 51% of the capital.

However, the law authorizes the Minister of Economy and Commerce to allow foreign investors to own 100% of projects in the fields of agriculture, industry, health, education, tourism, energy, mining and development of natural resources as long as all these activities are compatible with the country’s development plans.

The law prohibits foreign investment in the national banks, insurance companies, commercial agencies and real estate. As an incentive it also allows foreigners to lease land for investment purposes for a renewable period of 50 years.

The law exempts invested foreign capital from income tax for a period not exceeding 10 years from the date of commissioning the project.

It also grants custom duty exemptions on imported basic machinery and equipment. Industrial projects are granted similar treatment on primary or semi-manufactured materials necessary for production and not available in the local market.

The government is currently drafting laws which will, once ratified, allow foreign investors to own shares of more than 50% in projects, as well as offer them other incentives.

The government has also signed many agreements with several countries relevant to cooperation in economic, commercial, and technical fields in addition to protection of mutual investments and against obviate dual taxation.

Qatar is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) since 1976; the Arab agreement on copyrights protection since 1986; The Bern Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic works since 2000; and a party to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property since 2000. 

The Intellectual Protection Office at the Ministry of Economy and Commerce is committed to the amendments to the law of intellectual property protection which were introduced in compliance with the Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

Investment Sectors

Urea, one of the downstream products of Qatar's hydro-carbons
 

Qatar has recently invested over $26 billion in natural gas related projects in partnerships with investors from Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and the USA.

New investments for this decade (2001-2010) are expected to rise to almost US $ 30 billion in the petrochemical fertilizer and energy sectors.

The government supports the private sector by giving priority to the locally produced goods. This policy has encouraged several big companies not only to invest in oil, gas, petrochemical and foundry industries, but also in marketing and promoting the products of such industries.

The government is also a shareholder in several private sector companies such as the Qatar Industrial Manufacturing Company which has a very impressive record of profits.

The state has stakes in several other businesses including the Qatar Nitrogen Co., the Qatar Steel Company, the Qatar Plastic Company, the Olive Oil Bottling Company, the Date Palm Pressing Company and the Qatari  Electricity and Water Company (QEWC) which has a capital of QR 1 billion.

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Money

Qatar Central Bank
 

The Qatar Central Bank (QCB) was established in 1993 to replace the Qatari Monetary Authority, which was formed in 1973. 

Among the Bank’s main tasks is to organize, control and ensure stability of the financial market.

QCB maintains supervision, coordination and control of the banking sector in addition to issuing all regulations necessary to streamline the activities of the banks and financial institutions operating in the country.

The bank’s capital has recently been increased to one billion Qatari Riyals (QR). The purchasing power of the Qatari Riyal stems from the strength of the national economy, which in turn is backed by the country’s oil and gas wealth.

Since 1995 QCB has liberalized interest rates; thus giving commercial banks the freedom to determine their interest rate ceilings.

This policy created a wider degree of competition among local banks and eventually invigorated the financial market.

There are 15 banks in Qatar, eight of which are Qatari-owned, including five commercial, two Islamic banks and the specialized Qatar Industrial Development Bank. There are also two Arab and five foreign banks.

Recently,  Qatar Central Bank has raised the minimum capital adequacy rate to 10% from the previous Basle standard which was set at 8%.  Over the last two years the Qatari banking sector achieved an increase in assets by 12.8% to reach QR 57,1 billion.

Customer deposits rose by 14.7% to reach QR 44,2 billion, shareholder equity went up by 13.1% to hit QR 7,2 billion and net profit saw a rise by 46% to  QR 968 billion, loans and advances increased by 25.5% to reach QR 36 billion.

Insurance sector

The insurance sector plays an important role in the Qatari  economy. There are 8 insurance companies operating in the country, four of which are Qatari-owned, and the rest are either agencies or branches of foreign companies.

On March 9, 2001, Standard & Poor's raised its long-term foreign currency issuer credit and senior unsecured debt ratings on the State of Qatar to 'A-' from 'BBB+', and its long-term local currency issuer credit rating on Qatar to 'A-' from 'BBB+'. The outlook was revised to positive from stable.

At the same time, Standard & Poor's raised the short-term foreign currency issuer rating to 'A-2' from 'A-3', and affirmed its short-term local currency issuer credit rating at 'A-2'.

The agency praised Qatar’s economic position and pointed out that this upgrade reflects the prospect for continued fiscal prudence, which, together with high oil and gas prices, is resulting in further declines in the public debt servicing burden.

Doha Securities Market

Doha Securities Market
 

The Doha Securities Market (DSM) was officially opened in 26 May 1997. Since then DSM has been working hard to attract funds and limit capital flight. It also plays an important role in the privatization of some public sector companies.

Among DSM objectives:

  • Providing investment  opportunities in securities with the aim of boosting the national economy.
     
  • Developing the financial market to help achieve the economic goals of the country and enhance economic development.
     
  • Encourging new business initiatives and regulating issuance of new securities in the primary market.
     
  • Ensuring closing deals and securing payment and releasing all information available about joint stock companies and making such information accessible to the public.
     
  • Conducting  studies and gathering data and statistics.

DSM has come a long way since it was opened. By the beginning of 2002 the number of companies listed on the exchange has risen to 24 from 17 back in May 1997.

The market capitalization stood at QR 26,6 billion at the end of March 2002, an increase of 42% compared to 1997.

Although DSM is one of the smallest stock exchanges in the GCC countries in terms of market capitalization and listed companies, it ranks first in index growth, which reached 37.2% in 2001.

Trading in the services sector accounts for 60.1% of the total number of shares traded and 51% of the total value, while the Banking Sector accounts for 31.6% of the number of shares traded and 40.5% of the total value.

OnSunday April 3, 2005 the Doha Securities Market was officially open to non-Qataris. Qatar Ministry of Economy & Commerce has approved of opening up Doha Securities Market (DSM) for non-Qatari investors to trade in all scrips listed in order to achieve the utmost benefits possible of open market and minimize the associated negative effects.

Non-Qatari investors are allowed to trade up to 25% of the companies capitals listed.

The decision has been made in the light of a study which has been carried out in cooperation between the Ministry of Economy and Commerce and the DSM on that score. The study has shown that liberating the financial market is a means by which the State of Qatar will be use to attract investments to finance economic development in the country.

The decision has been based also on the fact that the State of Qatar is a capital-attracting country due to its long-term foreign currency issuer credit and senior unsecured debt rating scredit and senior unsecured debt ratings and its promising economy. The study has shown that existing corporations have expanded tremendously and new companies have been set up, a fact which would not justify not opening up the market. 

In February 2000, GCC citizens were allowed to hold shares (up to 25%) in all companies except in the industrial and service sector. However, plans are underway to open up the market to citizens and expatriates, and, in due course, to other investors, possibly through the medium of mutual funds.

In a quantum leap, the DSM introduced electronic trading on 11 March 2002 to provide for better transparency, facilitate the process of linkage with other bourses in the Gulf and the Arab World, and to safeguard investor interests.

DSM has bilateral cooperation agreements with a number of bourses in the region such as the one's in Abu Dhabi and Bahrain.

Qatar Industrial Development Bank (QIDB) was established in 1997 with an authorized capital of QR 200 million, of which the government has supplied 50%.

One of the foreign banks in Doha
 


QIDB's objective is to encourage national industry by providing long-term finance and credit facilities to small and medium size industrial projects which are to meet the local market's needs.

During 2000 QIDB carried out an industrial investment opportunities program and provided consultancy services to private sector.

Also foreign industrialists have been approached to persuade them to enter into partnerships with their local counterparts either by bringing in capital or technological know-how.

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Information Source: www.qatarinfo.net

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Events of January 2018
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1 The Fourth Doha Islamic Finance Conference Bait Al Mashura & Qatar Financial Center 2018 / 01 / 09 2018 / 01 / 09
2 The 2th Q-PEM Hamad Medical Corporation 2018 / 01 / 12 2018 / 01 / 14
3 Expo Turkey by Qatar MC Fair Organization 2018 / 01 / 17 2018 / 01 / 19
4 International Customs Day General Authority of Customs 2018 / 01 / 25 2018 / 01 / 25
5 Heidelberg Conference in Doha Hamad Medical Corporation 2018 / 01 / 26 2018 / 01 / 27