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Wed 3 Oct 2007 12:38 PM

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Qatar plans three free trade zones

Consultancy appointed to elaborate on how the proposed zones can be developed, financed and marketed.

Qatar has announced plans to establish three free trade zones (FTZs), including one near the New Doha International Airport, the newspaper The Peninsula has reported.

In an interview with the in-house magazine of the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry (QCCI), Yousef Hussein Kamal, the Finance Minister, said the site of the second FTZ would be near the near the industrial are in Doha, whilst the third would be exclusively for downstream industries near Mesaieed Industrial City (MIC).

Qatar has employed an international consultancy to conduct extensive feasibility studies on the proposed FTZ projects, the paper also reported. The consultancy has also been asked to elaborate on how the zones can be developed, financed and marketed.

The study will also outline the economic benefits of establishing the free trade zones and how they can boost the country's gross domestic product (GDP). The consultancy is expected to complete and submit by the end of the year, the newspaper said.

The first FTZ would be located near both the new airport and Doha port, which will provisionally house and light industries and offices of financial services, legal, trade and engineering consultancies.

The second FTZ will cater to manufacturing industries and transport companies, with importance given to hi-tech industries. Large warehousing and transport companies would also be allowed to set up base. The third FTZ is then to be located near the MIC in order to accommodate petrochemical and other key downstream industries.

A number of investors have already expressed their willingness to cooperate with the government to launch the ambitious FTZ ventures and a number of memoranda of understanding (MoU) have already been signed with the, the minister also said.

"They would be our strategic partners in developing the projects as also managing them when they are ready," said Kamal.

Final agreements are expected to be signed with partners early next year once the consultants have submitted their feasibility reports.

Kamal also said the private sector need to improve in order to cope with the growing competition emanating from globalisation and free trade.

Qatar's government is doing its best to encourage the private sector and help it effectively meet the challenges it faces, he said.

The Ministry of Economy and Commerce is also studying the feasibility of opening a number of centres outside to issue commercial registrations, the Minister of Finance said.

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