The Ministry of Economy and Commerce pays a lot of attention to stimulate all sectors of economic activity; lay down the bases of economic freedom, fair competition and transparency; achieve commercial openness and enhance international cooperation.
The Ministry works to prepare a favorable investment atmosphere to attract local and foreign capitals and increase the confidence of investors in the worth of the Qatari economy. It seeks to encourage the private sector and remove obstacles that oppose its marsh; simplify company establishment procedures; develop financing and insurance services and markets; protect the intellectual property, trade marks and patents and participate in international exhibitions and markets.
The Ministry also prepares the internal legislation for trade systems, supervises the conduct of economic and commercial activity and undertakes the conclusion of bilateral, regional and international commercial as well as economic cooperation agreements.
The Ministry is composed of the following departments: Economic Affairs Department; Commercial Affairs Department; Specification, Measures And Consumer Protection Department; Administrative and Financial Affairs Department; Cooperation Department and Planning and Follow-Up Unit.
Qatar became the 121st member in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), presently known as the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Qatar's foreign trade balance increased in 2005 by about 40.5 billion Qatari riyals or 45.1% over the level of 2004 to reach 130.4 billion Qatari riyals.
In 2005 imports jumped to 32,992 million Qatari riyals compared to 19,691 million Qatari riyals registered in 2004. This hike is connected to the massive influx of investments in the Qatari economy and the import of great quantities of commodities and raw materials that were needed for the development process.
Accounting for 14% of the total value, imports from the GCC countries reached 5,125 million Qatari riyals this year. Imports from non-Gulf Arab countries were 1.6% of the total value in 2005, standing at about 583 million Qatari riyals.
The European Union group is Qatar's most import trade partner. The relative ratio of imports from this group comes up first among other groups with about 12,294 million Qatari riyals worth of imports from this group.
Qatari imports from the rest of the European countries come sixth among the country's total value of imports of 665 million Qatari riyals from the whole group with about 2.0% share in the total value of Qatari imports from allover the world.
During 2005, Qatar's imports from non-Arab Asian countries amounted to 12,094 million riyals; from North American countries ranked fourth in terms of relative share with about 4,397 million Qatar riyals, most of which goes to the USA; from Central and South America rated fifth with 669 million Qatar riyals; from Australia and new Zealand ranked eighth, accounting for about 494 million Qatar riyals; from the non-Arab African countries came ninth with about 130 million Qatari riyals; and from uncategorized countries rated 10th and last with about 10 million Qatari riyals.
With about 54.203 million Qatari riyals, oil exports topped Qatar?s total exports components in 2005, increasing by 23,157 million Qatari riyals or 74.6% compared to the previous year. Non-oil exports receded in 2005 by about 2,124 million Qatari riyals or 16.8% compared to the previous year.
Essential materials and goods needed for the development of the infrastructure enjoy preferential import treatment. They are exempt from customs charges in a par with food stuffs and goods imported for personal use. Most of the other commodities are charged a nominal tax of only 4%, while protection taxes are levied on the imported commodities that can compete with the similar locally produced ones. These include 20% customs on iron, steel and cement; and 30% on urea. 50% tax is levied on tobacco, and 15% on records and musical instruments. Commodities produced in the GCC countries are exempt from customs charges.
The overall balance of payments of Qatar registered a surplus of about 16m122 million Qatari riyals in 2005, against 14,294 million Qatari riyals in the previous year, increasing by 1,828 million Qatari riyals or 12.8%. The current account surplus achieved in 2005 was the main reason behind the surplus in the overall balance of payments. The increase in the current account, in turn, was a result of the increase in the value of the commodities from 48,321 million Qatari riyals in 2004 to 60,781 million Qatari riyals in 2005, increasing by 12,460 million Qatari riyals this year.
The current account reached 38,994 million Qatari riyals in 2005 against 27,488 million Qatari riyals in 2004, increasing by 11,506 million Qatari riyals or 41.9% compared to the results of the previous year.
The Qatari trade balance in 2005 realized a surplus of about 60.781 million Qatari riyals compared to 48,421 million Qatari riyals make in 2004, increasing by 12,460 million Qatari riyals or 25.5%.
Major Trade Partners
Japan came on top of Qatar's trade partners in 2004 to which Qatar imports an estimated value of 28.312.000 riyals, followed by South Korea ,on the second place, to which Qatar imports an estimated value of 10.676.000 riyals , Singapore to which Qatar imports an estimated value of 6.586.000 riyals and India, on the fourth place, to which Qatar imports an estimated value of 3.654.000 riyals .
Qatar is committed to sister and friendly countries by a number of economic, trade and technical cooperation agreements as follows:
a- Economic, trade and technical cooperation agreements.
b- Bilateral investment protection agreements.
c- Tax duplication prevention agreements.
d- Aviation and air transport agreements.
Agreements with the International Community
a- International organizations and authorities:
- Membership in the World Trade Organization.
- Membership in the United Nations and its affiliate organizations and authorities.
b- Arab and Islamic Organizations and Authorities:
- Membership in the Arab League.
- Chair of the 9th session of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
- Membership in the pan-Arab agreement on the facilitation and development of trade exchange between the Arab countries.
- Membership in the pan-Arab free trade zone agreement.
Laws Governing Trade and Investment
- Law No (13) for 2000 on the organization of foreign capitals in the economic activity.
- Law No (5) for 2002 on the issue of the law of commercial companies.
- Law No (7) for 2002 on the protection of copyright and neighboring rights.
- Law no (9) for 2002 on trade marks, data and names and on geographical indicators, charges and industrial specimens.
Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry (QCCI)
(QCCI) was established in 1963 as a government body in accordance with Law No (4) issued in the same year. In 1990 law No (11) was issued to reorganize the Chamber's organizational structure and transform it into an independent and public utility body, representing the collective commercial, industrial and agricultural interests of its members. The members of its board of directors are chosen from the general assembly by direct ballot.
The responsibilities of the Chamber include collecting information and data of interest to the commercial, industrial and agricultural community; supplying the government departments with their requirements for data, information and advice on commercial, industrial and agricultural matters; providing advice on establishing bourses, markets and commercial, industrial and agricultural fairs; issuing certificates that indicate the origin of goods and nationalities of exporters and arbitrating on disputes referred to it with the consent of concerned parties.