Qatar Trade Agreements

Qatar Trade Agreements

In 2014, Qatar was the GCC`s second most open trade market and produced 80% of the Heritage Foundation`s trade freedom index, ahead of Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Over the past decade, Qatar`s economy has experienced extensive liberalization, although it has been more progressive in terms of investment, reflecting the desire to protect local businesses and promote domestic industrialization. Further changes were made in 2009, when the Council of Ministers agreed on the amendments proposed by the Ministry of Economy and Trade, which oversee domestic trade and investment activities, in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Qatar Investment Promotion Department and the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry. These amendments allow foreign investors to hold 100% of the shares in certain service sectors, including corporate consulting, ICT, culture, sport, entertainment and distribution. Qatar`s science and technology park, a free zone, was inaugurated in 2009 and offers foreign investors exemptions from taxes, tariffs and catarrification quotas (see analysis). However, some sectors remain closed to competition both abroad and domestic competition, including public transport, utilities, steel, cement, fuel distribution and marketing. The 2014 changes are part of reforms to expand the state`s stock market – the second largest in the GCC after Saudi Arabia, with a capitalization of $187 billion as of February 2015. In recent years, Qatar has experienced an all-time high thanks to regular hydrocarbon exports, increasing import demand, moderate market liberalization and the development of bilateral trade relations. Although FDI inflows declined in 2013, outflows of FDI soared, consolidating the state`s position as a driver of international investment. Bilateral trade between Qatar and its major Asian trading partners grew strongly in 2014, the last time the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) signed multi-billion euro currency exchange and investment agreements with China. The development of new special economic zones is expected to result in a steady increase in local investment and DLINS in the medium term, while in the coming years a large number of GCC (FTA) free trade agreements could further increase the volume of international trade.