A law passed yesterday allows foreign investors to have up to 100 percent ownership in businesses such as consultancy services, information technology (IT), services related to sports, culture and entertainment as well as distribution services.
The above areas of businesses were added to a list of activities in which foreign investors were already allowed (vide a legislation enforced in the year 2000) to have equity stake ranging from 49 to 100 percent.
These areas, as per Law Number 13 of 2000 regulating foreign investment, were industry, healthcare, education, tourism, exploitation and development of natural resources and energy or mining provided that these projects are compatible with the country’s development plans.
The Emir, H H Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, yesterday issued Law Number 1 of 2010 amending some key provisions of Law No 13 of 2000 regulating the investment of non-Qatari capital in key economic sectors.
The amendments specify the additional fields (mentioned above) in which the Minister of Business and Trade may permit foreign investors to have equity stake beyond 49 percent. The equity could go up to 100 percent, Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported yesterday.
The new law further states that the State Cabinet has the authority to add any other economic activity to the above list vide a decision officially issued.
The new law (No. 1 of 2010) will go into effect with immediate effect and is to be published in the official gazette.
Banking, insurance, commercial agencies (dealerships of foreign goods and services) and real estate (barring some designated areas) still remain out of the purview of foreign investment.
As an investment incentive foreign investors may take real estate on long-term lease for the purpose of conducting their business.
The lease period of 50 years, as per Article 5 of Law No 13 of 2000, is renewable.
The Trade Ministry also has the power, according to Law No. 13 of 2000, to exempt a foreign investor from paying income tax for a period of 10 years and waive customs duty on the import of machinery and equipment as well as raw materials and semi-finished goods.
Foreign investors are permitted full repatriation of capital and profits overseas in foreign currency. No restrictions are to be imposed on such remittances.
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