11 Sep 2017 - 2:02
Qatar-Pakistan bilateral trade to get major boost due to siege
By Mohammad Shoeb / The Peninsula
With the newly-opened Hamad Port starting direct shipping links to Karachi and other ports in Pakistan, Qatar-Pakistan bilateral trade volume is set to witness a major boost in the coming days.
The bilateral economic relations is expected to get further expanded and deepen largely driven by merchandise trade as private companies from both sides are exploring trade and investment opportunities aggressively.
Many companies have already started importing more number of items in larger quantities from Pakistan. The huge export of Qatari LNG to the energy-starved South Asian nation has already resulted a big jump in the numbers.
“With the direct shipping lines from Hamad Port with several ports in India and Pakistan, we are now in a position to bring more items in huge quantities in bigger vessels. We have also identified new goods, especially food items, to import from these agriculture dominated countries,” said a top official of a leading retail chain.
The regional director of the company, who did not wish to be identified, added: “With direct sea links we are not only saving more than a week’s time in shipments, but importing goods with greater efficiency and consistency.”
Qatar, after the announcement of Saudi-led siege, opened more channels of trade cooperation with all friendly countries, including Oman, Kuwait, India, Turkey and Pakistan.
Qatar’s trade with Pakistan has already witnessed a sharp growth over the last few years. Bilateral trade volume reached QR2.8bn in 2016, while it was QR887m in 2015.
Qatar’s exports to Pakistan in 2016 touched QR2.5bn, whereas Pakistan’s exports to Qatar were only QR317.7m.
After the recent visit of a Pakistani trade mission to Doha, Qatari companies have signed a number of agreements with their Pakistani counterparts to source goods, including fruits, vegetables, fresh meat, chicken other poultry and dairy products.
“Currently there are over 1,25,000 Pakistani community in Qatar who are contributing significantly in almost every sector of the local economy, including business, trade, engineering, construction, healthcare, education, and other sectors,” noted Sohail Badr, a prominent member of the Pakistani business community in Qatar.
Sohail, speaking to BBC Urdu recently, added: “After the siege, governments in Qatar and Pakistan are taking all the needful steps to further deepen the bilateral cooperation in all walks of life.”
BBC’s siege-special programme, which was broadcast live from Doha, was attended by several other prominent members of the Pakistani community in Qatar representing different walks of life, such as business, trade, education, diplomacy. Some of the names included Sarfraz Khanzad, Former Ambassador to Qatar; Irdris Anwar and Mohammed Khan, leading businessmen; Riyaz Ahmed Bakali, educationist; Tahir Chaudhary; Khurram Shehzad; Rashid Rafiq Butt among others.
“When I first heard about the news of the blockade, I was not worried at all about any adverse impact because of the strong leadership the country is blessed with,” said Mohammed Khan.
He added: “Qatari leadership has handled the situation with great political maturity through measured response, which help win the support of the international community. For instance, there are over 630 Saudi companies operating in Qatar; out of that some 330 are fully owned by Saudi businessmen. Despite the unjust blockade Qatari side did not restrict the remittances of these companies to Saudi Arabia.”
Sarfaraz Khanzada, who have extensively served in the GCC region as a top diplomat, including two tenures as Pakistan’s ambassador to Doha, also echoed in same voice about the Qatari government’s response, especially the Prime Minister and Interior Minister, H E Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani and the Foreign Minister H E Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.
“The blockading countries terribly failed to isolate Qatar at the international level… Qatari leadership amicably diffused all the actions taken by the siege countries against Qatar. The abrupt severing of ties with Qatar and the pre-emptive measures by (the four Arab countries) send a very wrong message about their intentions. But Qatar handled in strategically and the international community also came forward for support very timely.”