Expected FTA to boost UK’s trade ties withQatar

The expected free trade agreement (FTA) between GCC states including Qatar and the UK will further boost trade between Qatar and the UK, Lulu Group International Director Dr Mohamed Althaf said.

Talking to Qatar Tribune recently, Althaf said, “There is a lot of initiative from the UK government to reach out to countries ‘One to One’ for most favoured nation status in business and free trade agreements. Maybe there will be a free trade agreement between GCC states including Qatar and UK very soon. The free trade agreement with Qatar will be a huge game changer for people like us here.”

After a very long association, he said, “The UK has already concluded one treaty with Australia. And I think they are close to finalising an agreement with India. And I think the next is going to be Qatar. Now, in terms of the British export to Qatar, it will definitely benefit because this will remove a lot of trade barriers. But as I said Qatar is always a very open economy. So more than that, more than British food coming here, I also see a huge potential for Qatari products to go towards the UK.”

“As we know that Qatar has got a very nice port here in Doha. And there is a lot of incentive here for smart manufacturing, a lot of goods can come and go. So I wouldn’t be surprised if many companies from Asia will make Qatar a hub for manufacturing. The free trade agreement with the UK will also encourage a lot of UK companies to come and set up their operations in Qatar. So I think that will give a huge boost to the trade between these two countries,” Althaf said.

Althaf also revealed that Lulu has four more projects ready to open this year.

He said, “Now that the World Cup is over we are trying to consolidate ourselves in the Qatari market. Last year, we needed to complete most of our projects to ensure we were aligned with preparation for FIFA. And we wanted to serve our guests and I think we did it well. Not only us, all the people in Qatar, and all the companies have done a fabulous job and made the World Cup extremely successful. Now that things are done and we are back to normal, we are consolidatingour operation.”

He, however, said that the growth potential for Qatar is very high. “Qatar is now on the course of one of the biggest hydrocarbon expansions in the world. A lot of investment is happening in the hydrocarbon sector and all the infrastructure investments that they have made will result in some kind of a commercial outcome. So we are also continuing to grow to align with thecountry’s growth.”