With its strategy of global diversification, making wise investments and pursuing long-term goals, Qatar has used the embargo by other Gulf countries as an opportunity to bolster itself politically and economically. In less than a week after the blockade was imposed, Qatar managed to overcome potential negative effects and find alternative trade and import routes. In particular relations with the EU are benefitting: new agreements with Member States are being forged, that previously remained unexplored.
The Strengthening of Qatar – EU relations: New Horizons for Mutual Growth
The current embargo imposed on Qatar by other Gulf countries was initially meant to present the nation with challenges and pose an obstacle to the free growth of the Qatari economy. However, the blockading countries have achieved the exact opposite effect: Qatar has seized the opportunity and bolstered itself politically as well as economically.
During the past years, Qatar has pursued a strategy of global diversification, investing wisely and with long-term goals. In less than a week, Qatar was able to overcome potential negative effects of the embargo, and find alternative import and trade routes. Hence, after a brief readjustment period, day-to-day life in Qatar has been uninterrupted and is improving in many ways.
In particular, Qatar-EU economic relations are benefitting by forging new agreements with foreign partners which previously remained unexplored. On 6 and 7 March, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani visited the Kingdom of Belgium and the European Union to explore new opportunities for cooperation.
Amongst other agreements, HH the Amir signed a Cooperation Arrangement between the European External Action Service and the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affair, which will serve as basis for an enhanced political dialogue and strengthened cooperation on sectoral areas of mutual interest, notably private sector development and research and innovation.
On the 28th of February, a meeting took place in Doha where the enhancement of investments and business opportunities between Qatar and the EU were discussed. During the meeting, the Qatari Minister of Economy and Commerce H.E. Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani and EU ambassadors to the Gulf country highlighted the close ties between Qatar and the EU, now the country´s second largest business partner.
Furthermore, representatives from Qatar and the European Parliament discussed the new possibilities that the trade embargo offers to foreign investors, on the occasion of the IFreeTrade conference that took place in the Middle East Dialogue Center in Brussels on 27 February 2018.
Developing European-Qatari cooperation was also the focus of discussions during the ´French Technologies in Agriculture´ conference in Doha in February 2018. The conference was organised by Business France, the national agency supporting French foreign development. It was attended by the Ministry of Municipality and Environment’s agricultural research department director Massoud al-Marri, Aquaculture Department head Mohammed al-Abdulla, together with local farm owners and guests.
The meeting explored potential partnerships and technology transfers between French agriculture and aquaculture businesses and Qatari enterprises. Business France Managing Director of the Middle East, Marc Cagnard said that France has a lot to offer in the field of agriculture and sustainable development of Qatar. French companies are ready to share their expertise with Qatar in the field of agriculture and aquaculture in order to help the country improve its food output, he added.
This new cooperation is being explored in light of Qatar´s project of achieving food self-sufficiency by 2023. Towards this goal, Qatar will soon open the Matbakhh Aquatic and Fisheries Research Centre in Al Dhakira. The $60m project is expected to boost Qatar´s seafood production, now estimated at 15.000-16.000 tons per year, aiming to fulfill the country’s demand in the seafood sector.