Bilateral economic relations between Qatar and Canada have witnessed exponential growth over the past few years as a result of friendly relations between the two countries. That growth momentum continued in 2018 as the recently released statistics show a sharp jump of nearly 42 percent in the two-way trade exchange.
The bilateral trade volume between Qatar and Canada rose to C$247m (QR671.42m) in 2018 registering a double-digit growth compared to C$174m (QR473m) for the corresponding period in 2017.
“In terms of Qatar-Canada bilateral trade in 2018, statistics were recently confirmed. We are pleased to announce that we saw an increase in bilateral trade between our two countries. And I hope that 2019 and the coming years witness further growth,” Stefanie McCollum, Canada’s Ambassador to Qatar, told The Peninsula.
McCollum added: “I see big opportunities for Canadians and Canadian companies to continue to contribute to the Qatari economy and also for Qatari investment as they are looking for diversification. So I see the great scope of growth in bilateral cooperation as both sides enjoy a very strong relationship, and we will continue to build on that.”
On the possibility of high-level visits and bilateral engagement in boosting cooperation, the Canadian envoy said that discussions going on in this regard but no dates have been finalized.
“We are expecting to have visits from both ways like Canadian delegations coming to Qatar and Qatari delegates visiting Canada. We going to send some invitations very soon to Qatari side so that they can visit Canada on the margins of some interesting events after the Eid Al Fitr,” she said.
On the expanding areas of cooperation, Ambassador McCollum said that the priority for the embassy this year would be some promising sectors such as oil & gas and infrastructure. But the Canadian side is also interested to strengthen cooperation in the field of agro-food, medical and healthcare services as a lot of Canadians are already working in Qatar in this sector.
She also noted that there is also a huge growth potential to enhance the level of cooperation in the field of pharmaceuticals, medical instrumentation and policy standardization among others, which are some of the more emerging sectors to complement the traditional areas of bilateral cooperation.
For his part, Jacob Burke, Chairman of Canadian Business Council of Qatar (CBCQ), added: “We, at the CBCQ, are working to facilitate and enhance the bilateral cooperation between the two countries, and providing the needful support to the Canadian businesses and other potential investors to have meeting with like-minded people. We are also trying to attract new business here in the local market as well as the Canadian businesses that are looking to come to Qatar.”
Burke also echoed that the size of the Canadian companies and community in Qatar is growing fast and steady both in the private sector as well as in the public sector.
He said that the CBCQ is routinely organizing networking events on regular intervals so that can leverage more and more growth.
Asked about the Canadian and Qatari companies, especially the ones that have huge expertise in the field of oil and gas can do more, he said: “Definitely, we have a lot of interests, partnerships and JVs (joint ventures) created here in Qatar with Canadian companies.
There is a lot of interest from Canadians who are looking forward to coming to Qatar and find strategic minded Qatari companies that can help grow their business outside of our geographical areas including North America. And we are here to support all those businesses to help them understand about the business environment in Qatar and how they can be more successful quickly.”
The Canadian Business Council-Qatar is a non-profit organization established to provide a forum for members to network and exchange information and experiences to promote commercial, economic, technical, sport and cultural relationship as well as enhance bi-lateral trade and investment between Canada and the State of Qatar.
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The Canadian Business Council Qatar and the Embassy of Canada to Qatar held a welcome reception in honor of the recent arrival of Canada’s new ambassador to Qatar – H.E. Stefanie McCollum and to bring together the Canadian
Qatar and Canada bilateral trade volume is expected to witness sharp growth in 2018 and beyond as both sides are working very actively to deepen and expand bilateral cooperation in almost all fields, including economics, trade, investment and diplomacy, noted a top Canadian diplomat in Qatar at an event.
Although the bilateral trade volume between Qatar and Canada is modest at C$174m (about QR480m) but there is a huge untapped potential to enhance economic and commercial ties in a variety of sectors. In addition, both sides are also working for exchange of delegations, including high-level political visits between Qatar and Canada.
“There is a renewed interest and enthusiasm on both sides to strengthen economic, commercial and diplomatic ties between Canada and Qatar. We are also working to have exchange of high-level political visits which will help pave the way for expanding cooperation,” said Stefanie McCollum, Canada’s Ambassador to Qatar.
McCollum, addressing the members of the Canadian Business Council Qatar (CBCQ), added: “One of the key priorities of our embassy is to grow commercial ties between the two countries. We aim to do this by supporting our Canadian companies and creating the conditions to allow them to succeed and for others to join this market.”
She defined the Qatar-Canada relationship “very strong” which have enjoyed uninterrupted diplomatic ties since 1974. “We have a robust relationship across the commercial, economic, political and cultural spheres,” the envoy added hailing Qatar’s remarkable achievements despite the economic siege imposed by the Arab quartet.
“Faced with a diplomatic and economic blockade imposed by its neighbours, Qatar has emerged stronger. It has diversified trade routes, established new trading partners, build domestic capabilities in strategic sectors, such as agriculture, and have overcome unimaginable obstacles, while maintaining peace, security, and stability for its citizens and residents — a commendable feat by any measures.” Canadian companies have been active for many years in Qatar, and have contributed to Qatar’s phenomenal development.
Currently the size of the Canadian community in the country is over 9,000 people, who are working in a wide range of sectors, including oil and gas, infrastructure, health and education. A lot of Canadian companies are also involved in implementing projects related to 2022 Fifa World Cup, Qatar National Vision 2030.
The bilateral trade volume between Qatar and Canada is likely to grow significantly in the coming years with the commercial ties between the two countries expanding rapidly.
For instance, just over a week ago, Qatar Airways announced to introduce an additional weekly flight (its fourth weekly service to Canada) to its Doha-Montreal route from December 17, 2018, providing even more flexibility for both business and leisure passengers.
Reiterating about the fast growing relations, the envoy said that there are regular visits of Canadian companies, athletes, academics to Qatar. Recently, representatives from about 25 Canadian universities visited Doha.
And also there are regular flow of Qatari officials, business people, tourists and students back to Canada. “I hope that flow will increase in the coming days as Canada recently offered Qatar Airways an additional flight to Canada, which will further accelerate the pace of bilateral cooperation. And we are very excited about it,” said McCollum.
The welcome reception, organised by the CBCQ for Ambassador McCollum, was attended by a large number of business executives, including Ahmed Hafez, Vice-Chairman and Founding Member, and Jeffery Asselstine, Treasurer and Founding Member of CBCQ, and senior diplomats.
The Canadian Business Council of Qatar (CBCQ )hosted a meeting with representatives from the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Executive of College of the North Atlantic (CNA) on Sunday, May 13, 2018 at the Canadian Embassy in Doha, Qatar. CBCQ Board members provided information on the regulatory requirements for setting up a business in Qatar and discussed potential opportunities for local businesses in Newfoundland and Labrador. The Honourable Allan Hawkins, Minister of
Advanced Education and Skills, Government of Newfoundland Labrador, Canada; Ms. Genevieve Dooling, Deputy Minister of Advanced Education and Skills, Government of Newfoundland Labrador, Canada; Dr. Bill Radford, President, College of the North Atlantic O’Reilly, Board Chair, CNA.
The CBCQ hosted a meeting with Canadian businesses operating in Qatar and the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Canadian Minister of Immigration, Citizenship and Refugees and H.E. Adrian Norfolk, Ambassador of Canada to Qatar on Thursday, May 17, 2018 at the Canadian Embassy in Qatar. Guests included representatives from SNC Lavalin, Kasian Qatar Consulting, WSP and Bennett Jones. Minister Hussen highlighted that Canada was the only G7 country to have free-trade agreements with all G7 members and the latest initiatives by the Government of Canada to attract foreign investment. Guests discussed opportunities for public-private partnerships; knowledge transfer for major infrastructure projects in Canada and the challenges facing Canadian businesses as a result of the embargo.