The UK has enhanced its relationship with Qatar - its third largest Gulf trading partner - with agreements to boost trade and investment.
Two new Memorandums of Understandings (MOUs) were agreed at the third UK-Qatar Joint Economic and Trade Committee yesterday (25 August).
An agreement between the Department for International Trade (DIT) and Qatar’s Investment Promotion Agency is aimed at helping UK businesses enter the Qatari market by providing information on investment opportunities and guidance on market entry.
Minister for international trade, Ranil Jayawardena MP, said: “Qatar is an important trade and investment partner for Britain. I believe we should nurture and maximise the strength of our relationship to make our economies more resilient and prosperous.”
As reported by the Daily Express, DIT also opened the UK export market to Qatar for the supply of vitamins and supplements, enabling Holland & Barrett to export these products to the country.
Nick Parker, director of international development at Holland & Barrett, said: “Holland & Barrett’s mission is to make health and wellness a way of life for everyone and through our two franchise stores in Qatar we have been able to serve our customers there since 2015. However until now our franchise partner has been unable to offer our own range of vitamins and supplements.”
Jayawardena concluded the agreements with Qatar’s minister of commerce and industry H.E. Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al-Thani in London (24 August).
“We welcome news of the Qatar MOU with the UK, in particular the opportunities for British businesses to enter or expand their existing footprints in this booming market,” said IOE&IT director general Marco Forgione.
“It’s fantastic to see IOE&IT member Holland & Barrett already taking advantage of the Qatari market and we look forward to helping other members and the wider UK trading community do likewise.”
The meeting also saw the signing of a joint statement outlining commitments to tackling market access issues and growing trade in a range of sectors – including healthcare and life sciences, education, and food and drink.
UK Export Finance (UKEF) also signed a memorandum with Qatar Development Bank to share expertise on export finance, insurance products and cooperation on projects which involve both UK and Qatari goods and services.
The trade deals come as the UK and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GGC), of which Qatar is a member, begin their first round of talks, with Jayawardena promising to “bulldoze trade barriers” in the Gulf and around the world.
Food and green energy
He highlighted particular opportunities for farmers and food producers in a market already worth £625m last year, as the GCC imports virtually all of its food.
“A deal could reduce or remove tariffs on British exports – like cereals, chocolates, baking products, biscuits, meats and smoked salmon,” said the MP for North East Hampshire.
As covered in the IOE&IT’s Daily Update, an agreement with the GCC could grow a trade relationship already worth £33.1 billion last year.
Qatar announced plans to invest £10 billion in the UK’s economy under a strategic investment deal signed between the two countries in London in May.