Interview: China Int’l Import Expo boosts Qatar-China cooperation under Belt and Road Initiative

DOHA, Nov. 3 (Xinhua) — The China International Import Expo (CIIE) will promote trade and economic cooperation between China and Qatar under the Belt and Road Initiative, Khalifa bin Jassim Al Thani, chairman of Qatar Chamber, told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.

”The CIIE will undoubtedly contribute to the promotion of trade and economic cooperation between Qatar and China, it will also provide Qatari companies with a valuable opportunity to know more about Chinese products with high quality, ” said the Qatari official.

More than 3,000 companies from 130 countries and regions are attending the expo, which will open on Monday in the commercial hub of Shanghai.

The fair will contribute to experiences exchange, improve the investment climate and cooperation between exhibitors, visitors, business owners, and private sector representatives, said the head of Qatar Chamber.

The expo will serve as a new platform for the world to access the Chinese market, he said.

Qatar has established unique relations with China since 1988 when the two countries officially built diplomatic ties, and China has been an important trade partner of the Gulf state, he said.

He also expected that under the Belt and Road Initiative, the future of cooperation between the two countries is “promising.”

Khalifa added that the initiative, launched by China for economic and trade cooperation, could serve as a platform that offers promising opportunities and the scope for a brighter and broader future.

Over the five years since the Belt and Road Initiative was proposed to connect Asia, Africa and Europe, the exchanges between Beijing and Doha have witnessed rapid developments in all fields.

In 2014, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani made a historic visit to China, during which Doha and Beijing established strategic partnership.

Last year, Qatar opened the first RMB clearing center in the Middle East to boost trade and investment between China and Gulf Arab economies. Besides, the first regular direct shipping route between Hamad Port in Qatar and Shanghai was launched in 2017.

Moreover, many Chinese enterprises have participated in the construction of several strategic projects in Qatar such as the Hamad Port and the main stadium for the 2022 World Cup.

Since 2015, Qatar Chamber has been hosting an annual “Made in China” expo, a platform that enables Chinese companies to display their products in Qatari. It also aims to build commercial alliances to enhance Qatar-China trade relations, according to Khalifa.

He pointed out that the chamber also organized joint meetings between businesspeople from both sides, to explore opportunities to set up joint projects and build business alliances between Chinese and Qatar companies.

He stressed that businessmen from both countries are strongly willing to strengthen cooperation through the establishment of effective partnerships and joint ventures.

“China imports large quantities of hydrocarbons from Qatar, while Qatar imports from China machinery, equipment, electronics, metal and other products. There is close cooperation between the private sectors in both countries,” he said.

The trade volume between the two countries has exceeded 5.5 billion U.S. dollars in the first half of this year, an increase of 70 percent from the same period last year, according to the trade official.

Commenting on China-Gulf relations, Khalifa said that the cooperation has witnessed great achievements.

The trade volume between Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and China has reached 127 billion dollars.

Regarding the ongoing negotiation of the China-GCC Free Trade Agreement, the two sides have achieved remarkable progress in raising the level of cooperation, he added.

He pointed out that within the framework of the partnership, the two sides have signed several agreements on protecting investment, increasing trade, exemption from double taxation, and establishing a mechanism through the joint committee for trade cooperation.

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