PAK-QATAR TIES

FOZIA AROOJ
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)
Mar 22 - 28, 2010

Pakistan shares warm and cordial relations with Qatar. Both the countries enjoy excellent fraternal ties and there is a need to strengthen these bonds through increased bilateral economic cooperation. Pakistan and Qatar are in complete conformity on matters of regional and world affairs. Pakistan is a corridor of energy resources underlining that it has become a hub of economic activities. Pakistan attaches great importance to its ties with the Qatar as the two brotherly countries share similar culture and religion, besides having a commonality of perceptions on regional and international issues.

Qatar has experienced rapid economic growth over the last several years on the back of high oil prices, and in 2008 posted its eighth consecutive budget surplus. Economic policy is focused on developing Qatar's non associated natural gas reserves and increasing private and foreign investment in non-energy sectors, but oil and gas still account for more than 50% of GDP, roughly 85% of export earnings, and 70% of government revenues. Oil and gas have made Qatar the second highest per-capita income country following Liechtenstein - and one of the world's fastest growing. Proven oil reserves of 15 billion barrels should enable continued output at current levels for 37 years. Qatar's proven reserves of natural gas are nearly 26 trillion cubic meters, about 14% of the world total and third largest in the world.

Pakistan accounts for around 1.59% and 0.27% of total exports and imports of Qatar respectively. Major items of export from Pakistan to Qatar include rice, leather, textile article, rags, cotton yarn, woven fabric, meat etc. Major items of import from Qatar to Pakistan include petroleum, plastic, organic chemicals, and iron etc.

Both the countries need to increase interaction between the private sectors of the two sides. There exist tremendous opportunities to enhance trade between Pakistan and Qatar. Pakistan can offer a wide variety of business avenues including textiles, bed linen, towels, sports gear, goods, fruits, vegetables, fruits, beverages, and surgical instruments. Pakistan can in turn get propylene, steel plated iron and other items from Qatar. The trade between the two countries is increasing despite recession. An idea has been floated to establish a joint business council by both the countries, which would greatly facilitate trade and business opportunities.

The five main sectors of investment are banking and insurance, services sector including tourism, IT, telecommunication, and oil and gas. Pakistan's investment in the Qatar is mainly in the sectors of real estate, construction machinery, and technical services industry.

At present 56,000 Pakistanis are working in Qatar and more workforce is needed. The Pakistani businessmen and professionals in Qatar are playing a major role in banking, medical and construction sectors. The government is encouraging major Pakistani business groups to get registered on the stock market in the Qatar. Presence of large number of expatriate Pakistanis in that country had also necessitated regular contacts between the leadership of the two countries. The overseas Pakistanis had played a significant role for the development of Qatar. At the same time their remittances had gone a long way to strengthen financial position of the country.

Qatar and Pakistan have been planning a naval exercise as part of increasing military cooperation between the Islamic states. Pakistan has offered Qatar and other Gulf Cooperation Council states defense and military cooperation. Islamabad has held regular exercises with Saudi Arabia, regarded as the closest ally of Pakistan in the Gulf.

Pakistan has been seeking subsidized oil supply from Qatar, which is one of the largest oil supplying states. The areas of economic interest, being looked at by both sides, include greater cooperation in the oil and gas sector, including the possibility of setting up a gas pipeline from Qatar to Pakistan. Qatar government has vowed to extend its cooperation for the completion of Qatar gas pipeline. The two sides agreed that experts from their petroleum sectors would meet to discuss the technical aspects of export of LNG from Qatar to Pakistan. The investment policies being formulated by the government would create conductive environment for trade and business. Pakistan is likely to liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Qatar.

Qatar has agreed to cooperate in the gas pipeline project, LNG, technical assistance and investment in the oil and gas. In view of advanced technological expertise of the State of Qatar in the field of LNG, import of LNG from Qatar to Pakistan was considered as an additional option to be pursued on parallel basis. The Qatar side offered to provide technical assistance in different areas of oil and gas sectors to Pakistan. Keeping in view of liberal investment polices of the Government of Pakistan, the potential Qatar investors would be encouraged to make investment in Pakistan.

The government of Qatar shares an excellent rapport with Pakistan and intends to expand its cooperation both on economic and political fronts for mutual growth and benefit of both the countries. Pakistan has vast resources and potential for investment activity and Qatari business groups/companies should take part in the privatization of Pakistan, and focus on the investment opportunities such as the livestock and milk processing sectors of Pakistan.

Pakistan values its relations with Qatar as both the governments are determined to promote bilateral relations at a broader front. The government regards close and multifaceted relations with Qatar, which are rooted in common faith and shared heritage, values and culture.