HE the Minister of Commerce and Industry Ali bin Ahmed al-Kuwari Sunday said the Qatar-Korea Business Forum was an “important opportunity to consolidate co-operation between Qatar and Korea and build successful investment partnerships that serve the common aspirations and interests.”
In his speech during the opening session of the forum, he said: “The Qatari-Korean partnership represents a prominent example in the external economic relations of the State of Qatar.”
He noted that the two countries have been “bound with an advanced level of bilateral co-operation” for more than four decades.
In this context, al-Kuwari referred to the exchange of official visits between senior leaders, especially the historic visit of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani to Seoul this year and the visit of the South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon to Doha last July and their role in consolidating relations between the two countries.
The minister said the bilateral trade between the two countries “reflected the strength and status of their economic relations and their promising future prospects.”
Al-Kuwari said South Korea is Qatar’s second largest trade partner with bilateral trade amounting to $15.1bn in 2018. This represents nearly 13% of Qatar’s total foreign trade volume last year.
In the field of investments, the minister said the number of South Korean companies operating in Qatar, wholly owned by the Korean side, stood at 37 with an estimated capital of QR4bn, in sectors such as trade, contracting, construction and information technology. The number of joint ventures exceeded more than 140 with a total capital of QR7.3bn, he said.
The minister appreciated the progress made at the expert level of the Qatari-Korean Joint High Strategic Committee at its fifth session, which opened wider horizons for bilateral cooperation between the two countries in all fields.
He pointed to Qatar's economic and development achievements in the framework of the implementation of its grand development plan, adding that Qatar has established itself as one of the most stable, competitive economies in the region.
He cited the latest World Bank report, which predicted that Qatar's economy will grow by 3.4% by 2021, driven by higher growth in the services sector as the 2022 World Cup, and the country's GDP at constant prices grew by 1.4% in 2018 as economic activity recovered from the effects of the unjust blockade imposed on Qatar since 2017.
The Qatari economy witnessed a “significant recovery” with the entry of new national companies into the stock market and the opening of some 823 Qatari companies in food processing, services and manufacturing industries.
The minister said a draft law has recently been approved in order to “organise the partnership” between the public and private sectors. This will open wider horizons for the private sector and allow companies' to execute, build, finance, operate and manage various state facilities.
South Korean minister Sung Yun-mo said that the “forum is a living proof of the achievements” made by the two countries through their economic co-operation in the past, stressing that the exchange of official visits has contributed to strengthening Qatari-Korean relations.
He also stressed that Qatar, which is South Korea's second largest trading and economic partner in the Middle East, contributes significantly to the industrial development of the country. Qatar is the country's main supplier of liquefied natural gas (LNG) while South Korea is participating in the development process of Qatar in its Vision 2030.
The Korean Minister reiterated his country's readiness to support the Qatari industrial development, through its considerable experience in this sector, and its keenness to participate in the expansion projects of liquefied gas, including the construction of modern transport vessels.