QATAR - Diplomacy
State for Trade Policy, Department for International Trade (DIT)
George Hollingbery was appointed as Minister of State for Trade Policy at the Department for International Trade in June 2018. Previously, he served as the Prime Minister’s parliamentary private secretary from July 2016 to June 2018. Prior to that he was government whip (Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury) from May 2015 until July 2016. He was elected as a Conservative MP for Meon Valley in May 2010.
The UK and Qatar have a long and rich history together, and our relationship continues to grow from strength to strength. Our bilateral partnership extends to many areas, notably in trade and investment, culture and education, prosperity, and security. We see 3,900 Qatari students choosing British universities, and over 70,000 Qataris visit the UK each year, while Qatar is home to over 600 British companies.
Trade between the UK and Qatar has grown significantly in recent years, and it was my pleasure to visit Doha in December to co-chair our second Joint Economic and Trade Commission (JETCO) with Ali bin Ahmed Al Kuwari, Minister for Commerce and Industry. We were both able to reflect on the significant progress in the trading relationship that our countries have made over the past 12 months. Bilateral trade between our two countries totaled GBP6.3 billion in 2017 and has increased by 21% in the last five years. We also looked back on some important accomplishments, including the visit to London by Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, an MoU on cybersecurity between the UK and the Qatar Central Bank (QCB), a significant sale of Typhoon jets, and the visit of the Lord Mayor of London to Qatar. But we are keen to do more together.
The Department of International Trade (DIT) has built an expert trade policy team with the knowledge and experience needed to build on our trading partnerships across the world. During my visit to Qatar, I met with UK businesses that were excited to get involved in a huge array of new opportunities, including the World Cup, and to contribute to Qatar’s National Vision 2030—the ambitious multi-billion-dollar national reform plan. There are also significant opportunities for British companies to set up business in the newly developed free zones.
I visited the World Cup 2022 Legacy Pavilion and was impressed by the significant progress that has been made in preparation for the tournament. DIT has already helped British companies to secure GBP940 million in British-Qatar World Cup-related exports and aims to secure at least a further GBP500 million before the competition kicks off in 2022.
As a country, we have a long track record of delivering the world’s biggest sporting events. At Brazil’s 2014 World Cup, UK firm Blue Cube provided the seats on which fans cheered their teams, while at the Rio Games, British company PKL provided temporary kitchens to feed the athletes, staff, and fans. The 2022 FIFA World Cup is the first of many opportunities for the UK to support National Vision 2030, which includes GBP140 billion of infrastructure development and offers significant collaboration opportunities for UK companies.
The UK already sees more than GBP50 billion of investments coming from Qatar. In March 2017, Qatar announced a GBP5-billion investment commitment at the Qatar-UK Business Investment Forum. Almost half that amount has already been committed by Qatar to specific investment projects, and work continues on additional investments into the UK. It is an exciting time for both our nations as the UK sets up its independent trade policy for the first time in more the 40 years, and as Qatar continues to drive forward its National Vision 2030.
As a world leader in sectors such as tech, financial services, healthcare, and education, the UK is committed to supporting Qatar in diversifying its economy. Our recent trade talks provided an opportunity to review our progress on bilateral trade and key areas of collaboration that support our respective economies. Such engagements will work to cement the long-term future of the UK-Qatar trade partnership, and I am confident that between now and the next time our two countries sit down to talk trade, our shared prosperity will have continued on its upward trajectory.
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