Introduction by Gareth O'Brien, Director of Trade & Investment, British Embassy Doha
Director of Trade & Investment
Qatar has enjoyed the world's highest economic growth over the last six years, its revenues buoyed by record prices for oil and gas.
Much of its surpluses have been put into a (now) $125bn sovereign wealth fund (SWF) that has made headline investments (such as The Shard and Harrods). While the global economic crisis has slowed growth and the pace of development, there are still major opportunities for British companies in Qatar, which is why it is designated as one of UK Trade & Investment's High Growth Markets. We are currently pursuing two High Value Opportunity (HVO) projects, namely: Qatar 2022 and the Qatar Railways Project, but there is potential for many more.
In 2011, bilateral trade in goods and services reached £6.6 billion, a 71% increase on 2010. Qatar is therefore a major trading partner for the UK. Visible exports rose from £1.12 bn to £1.31bn 2012 - a 16 % increase. This growth is in step with the increasing demand for UK goods generally, which has seen exports rise from £363m in 2005 to present day levels. Qatar is the UK's third largest export market in the Gulf (after the UAE and Saudi Arabia) and fifth in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Latest figures for trade in services (2011) show an increase exports to £569m, which is the lion's share of the bilateral services trade flow (£673m). In addition, Qatari government investment in the UK now totals more than £20 billion with further investments of more than £10-15 billion planned.
Qatar is now the world's wealthiest country with an estimated GDP per capita of $106,000 in 2012, and has strategic importance in terms of energy and security, with the capacity to provide 20% of the UK's gas needs. The government is funding a major diversification programme of investment in health, tourism and education services as well as infrastructure. Qatar's successful bid for the 2022 FIFA World Cup (the Middle East's first) will require more than $220 billion being spent in the coming years on upgrading the country's infrastructure including transport, water, road and power services. A petrochemicals strategy is also underway, designed to attract leading energy supply chain companies and transform Qatar into a world energy hub. Substantial infrastructure and development projects over the next nine years will include new oil and gas facilities, a new port, an integrated rail system (including a metro in Doha and rail system with Bahrain and Saudi Arabia), a new airport, several roads projects, hotels, museums and residential compounds. We are working to position British business as a long-term partner in this work.
Qatar's economic diversification and investment in human capital continues to generate opportunities for UK businesses across a range of other sectors including transport, education, training and culture, oil and gas, and financial and professional services. Opportunities include:
· With an expected government spend of $41.5bn, Qatar hopes to build a full national and international rail network by 2026. A further $30bn is also being invested in Qatar's road network over the next five years.
· Qatar has strategic importance in terms of energy security for the UK. The South Hook LNG terminal in Wales is capable of supplying up to 20% of our domestic gas needs. · There are major opportunities in security with the many infrastructure projects planned.
· Education is a priority area for Qatar, with £3bn spend planned this year. Links are growing: many Qataris study in the UK and our institutions are exporting their expertise. UCL are the first European University to establish a campus in Doha, and the Qataris are keen to see a larger presence from UK.
· A number of important collaborations on science & technology exist between the UK and Qatar Science & Technology Park, including with Shell, Imperial College London, Virgin Health Bank, Williams F1, Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) and Rolls Royce, but there is potential for many more.
Entering a new market for the first time can be a daunting prospect and it takes time, commitment and investment to do it successfully. The good news is there's plenty of support available. The support we provide comes in many forms including briefing business on specific opportunities, lobbying on their behalf, conducting research into potential partners, customers and distributors, strengthening UK links with Qatari organisations, hosting trade missions and marketing UK strengths.
In the coming months, we'll be offering our experience, advice and local knowledge to help business explore and succeed. We're focussing closely this year on how we can deliver better support for UK companies interested in High Value Opportunities in Qatar including the Qatar Rail Project and Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The Qatar British Business Forum (www.qbbf.com) plays a vital role in deepening bilateral commercial ties. It's an active, growing and diverse group that offers a ready network for UK companies to plug into.
There are great opportunities here and the Embassy's UKTI team look forward to working with you to further strengthen the bilateral trade and investment relationship with Qatar. We hope to see you in Doha soon!
Director of Trade & Investment
British Embassy Doha