Qatar set to expand India business ties

NEW DELHI — Oil and cash rich Qatar is scouting for strategic partners and investment in India's healthcare, pharmaceuticals and IT sectors. It is not surprising to see Qatar emerging as New Delhi's one of the important trading and investment partners, as India has become Qatar's largest customer for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).

By From Ravi S Jha

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Published: Wed 22 Jun 2005, 11:17 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 4:45 PM

Both Qatar and India is all set to reach a new level in bilateral trades this year owing to Qatar's inclination to expand business ties with India. Qatar's deputy general secretary of Supreme Council for Economic and Investment Affairs Dr Hussain Al Abdulla admitted here yesterday that Qatar had some great plans for investments in India.

He said that Qatar was diversifying into investments in small and medium scale enterprises in downstream oil industries and for this it was keenly looking forward to cooperate with India. The visiting high level delegation led by Qatari Minister for Foreign Affairs Ahmed bin Abdulla Al Mahmoud is busy holding meetings looking for strategic partners in India vis-a-vis giving a boost to bilateral relations between the two. The Indian Minister for Commerce & Industry Kamal Nath said that in view of the growing importance of trade between the two countries it would be advantageous for Qatar to consider Indian companies for participation in turnkey projects, major civil construction works coming up in Qatar.

He also suggested that Qatar should sub-contract in energy-intensive and export oriented projects. India is the 8th largest destination of Qatar's exports and 10th largest in terms of value of Qatar's imports. India is the largest supplier of ready made garments, tea and vegetables to Qatar.

India also has a significant share in Qatar's import market for machinery and instruments, rice, marble, gold and precious metals, bus tyres, cosmetics, textiles and ceramics. The volume of bilateral trade between the two nations has been increasing over the years.

During 2004-05, the non-oil trade volume stood at $ 776.11 million as against $ 315.44 million during the previous year 2003-04. Kamal Nath said there was a long history of friendship and economic ties with the Gulf region in general and Qatar in particular.

He said that around 20 per cent of population of Qatar consisted of Non Resident Indians (NRIs). "We have invested in the form of human resources in Qatar and now we are looking for other investments from Qatar to India," he said, adding that the Qatar Financial Centre which had been set up and the Free Trade Zone in Qatar, which is likely to be established by 2007-08, could be of particular interest to Indian companies.

However, Dr Al-Abdulla said that with a GDP growth rate of 20 per cent over the last decade, Qatar was investing heavily in oil, LNG projects, petrochemicals, urea and ethylene and was seriously considering India to make a strategic partnership with India in its quest for two-way trade and business expansion.

Oil and gas account for over 55 per cent of Qatar‚s GDP, roughly 85 per cent of export earnings and 70 per cent of government revenues and resulted in the a per capita GDP about 80 per cent of that of the leading West European industrial countries. Proven oil reserves of 16 billion barrels are set to ensure continued output at current levels for 23 years.

Also Qatar's proven natural gas reserves exceed 14 trillion cubic meters, more than 5 per cent of the world's total and third largest in the world. The development of offshore natural gas reserves to offset the ultimate decline in oil production is one of Qatar's long term economic goals. In recent years, the country has consistently posted trade surpluses largely due to high oil prices and increased natural gas exports, thus becoming one of the world‚s fastest growing and highest per capita income countries.

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