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Posted On: 3 July 2020 10:49 pm

Qatar Free Zones Authority leads discussion on global trade resilience and FDIs

Binu Cherian
Binu Cherian
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Qatar Free Zones Authority (QFZA) co-hosted a digital roundtable in conjunction with The Business Year media group that included some of the world's leading experts in supply chains and foreign direct investment (FDI), including representatives from United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the World Economic Forum (WEF), and logistics experts DHL, Bayer Pharmaceuticals and Reybanpac to examine how global trade can adapt to the new realities presented by COVID19.

H.E. Minister of State and Chairman of Qatar Free Zones Authority (QFZA) Ahmad bin Mohamed Al Sayed said during the digital roundtable that "the true impact of these circumstances may not be truly felt for some time to come, but debates that were already underway over how supply chains can be rebalanced have now become urgent. Cost-efficiency can no longer be the solitary guiding principle of supply chains, and the world must now make sure that supply chains not only deliver value for money but they are also resilient to future circumstances so the global economy can keep moving"

His Excellency added: "QFZA built one the world's most advanced digital and logistical ecosystems in its Free Zones. This gives companies investing in the Zones, access to a diverse set of physical and digital entry points into global supply chains, either through its advanced telecommunications infrastructure, or the world-spanning air and deep seaports that allow major companies to maintain their leading positions in the global logistics industry. The Zones also provide flexible and diverse solutions to all companies looking to invest in the State of Qatar, especially the New Economy companies, this is in addition to providing the opportunity to partner with leading Qatari companies such as: Qatar Petroleum, Qatar Airways and the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy".

Speaking on behalf of the UNCTAD following their recent report on global FDI, Investment Policy Officer of the Division on Investment and Enterprise Dr. Oktawian Kuc said "Special Economic Zones remain an invaluable tool for policymakers trying to boost FDI inflows". He went on to highlight all the indirect benefits that they bring to economies beyond FDI like economic diversification, the shortening of supply chains and employment creation.

The effects of the pandemic on global supply chains have exacerbated an already stressed system suffering under the rising tide of economic nationalism and protectionism. Add to this the emergence of advanced technologies of the New Industrial Revolution (NIR) such as automated distribution and manufacturing hubs, and the world is now rapidly undergoing unparalleled changes in terms of how global supply chains can build in resilience whilst remaining profitable.

Speaking more broadly about the strategic importance of bringing more pharmaceutical companies to the Gulf, the CEO of QFZA, Lim Meng Hui, understood the industry's concerns about setting up R&D operations in the region: "for the pharmaceutical industry, its success depends on the availability of the appropriate and approved legal frameworks to protect the intellectual property rights of such companies. That's why the government of Qatar has worked so hard to implement a robust legal framework to protect companies' intellectual property. We hope that the arrival of companies such as those previously announced by the Free Zones will provide the reassurance needed by the big pharma companies that they can also set up operations here safe in the knowledge that the government of Qatar has enshrined in law the protection of their intellectual property. Beyond this, distribution capacity is paramount for the pharmaceutical industry and the State of Qatar has proven the diversity and resilience of its supply chains that allow products to get markets across the world".

A recent Global Competitiveness Report from WEF demonstrated that supply chains are only part of the story when it comes to FDI, and that whilst robust supply chains are a major determinant of FDI flows, they count for little if they are not connected to the fundamental building blocks of a dynamic economy that allow companies access to the facilities, capital and skilled labour needed to establish and grow their enterprises. The WEF report ranked Qatar highly on a number of these key indicators, and QFZ is keen to help businesses capitalize on everything the Zones and Qatar has to offer to help them on their journey to grow their international operations.

Qatar Free Zones Authority (QFZA) started its operations in 2019 to drive economic growth and oversee and regulate world-class Free Zones in Qatar, as well as secure fixed investments within the Zones. Qatar Free Zones (QFZ) offer outstanding opportunities and benefits for businesses seeking to establish operations and expand regionally and globally, providing quality infrastructure, a skilled workforce, 100% foreign ownership, access to investment funds, tax exemptions and partnership opportunities with Qatari entities.

Source: Press release