KARACHI: Consul General of Qatar Mishal Mohammad Ali Al-Ansari has said that Qatar was Pakistan’s thirteenth biggest trade partner and in 2021, the bilateral trade volume between the two brotherly countries was over US$2.73 billion which continues to show steady growth.

“Qatar and Pakistan have well established relations which are based on shared religion, culture, abilities and geographical proximity”, he added while speaking at a meeting during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry. President KCCI Mohammed Tariq Yousuf, Senior Vice President Touseef Ahmed, Vice President Muhammad Haris Agar, Former President Majyd Aziz and KCCI Managing Committee Members were also present on the occasion.

Referring to last year’s meeting in August in Diwan-e-Amiri, Doha between Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, he said that both leaders besides stressing on the importance of brotherly and strategic relations, expressed aspirations to enhance economic partnership, bilateral trade exchanges and investments promotion through Qatar Investment Authority. “In this regard, Qatar Investment Authority announced to invest US$3 billion various commercial and investment sectors in Pakistan.”

Highlighting arrangement for FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar, Qatari CG informed that the State of Qatar was ready to welcome friends and visitors from around the world which will kicks off this Sunday, November 20th, and the matches will take place in eight outstanding stadiums in which Qatar was expecting more than 3 million spectators who will be in Qatar to watch this historical event. “A lot of work has been done to prepare, overprepare and go beyond to make sure that everything goes on smoothly. All sectors including security, hotels, rooms and transportation etc. have been fully covered while Pakistan Army’s staff is also part of the security team”, he said, adding that to be on the safe side, three cruise ships have also been booked of which two have already arrived in Qatar to accommodate visitors in case all the hotels in Qatar were fully booked.

He said, “These gigantic cruise ships comprising of 26 floors and having 1,000 rooms each are already docked whereas thousands of luxurious tents having rest rooms and bed rooms have also been established in the desert as it is a totally different world cup in which all the matches will be played in eight stadiums situated in one city and away at a distance of half-an-hour from each other. “Of course, it’s going to be a month of festivities and the people have already started pouring into Qatar from Argentina, Brazil and Europe so it’s a big party scene now.”

He further said that Qatar stood in solidarity with the people of Pakistan during this year’s flashfloods and torrential rains. “As our sympathies are for those who have lost their livelihood, several Qatari aircrafts carrying hundreds of tons of emergency relief aids arrived in our brotherly country under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and the humanitarian support from Qatar continues to date which demonstrates our commitment.”

President KCCI Mohammed Tariq Yousuf, while welcoming the Qatari Consul General, stated that Pakistan and Qatar enjoy strong, bilateral, social, political and economic relationship. “Pakistan has sent over 1.1 million workers abroad during the last three years despite COVID-19 pandemic, out of which 53,000 plus workforce were exported to Qatar”, he noted, adding that both countries must work together to develop capacity building of Pakistan’s skilled workforce to match the requirements of employers abroad with a view to improve remuneration for Pakistani expatriates.

He said that trade volume between both countries has skyrocketed to new heights as compared to previous years on account of the LNG supply agreement. “We urge Qatari investors to invest in Pakistan’s petroleum industry to develop the LNG domestic market which holds tremendous opportunities for foreign investments.”

Tariq Yousuf urged that as Qatar was one of the top Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) suppliers in the world and Pakistan was currently facing severe energy crises, Qatar’s authorities must supply LNG to Pakistan on a priority basis to address the shortages.

Underscoring the need to strengthen bilateral economic cooperation through enhanced interaction between private sectors, he noted that Pakistan’s exports to Qatar stood at $196.6 million in FY22 as compared to $149.8 million in FY21, reflecting growth of over 31% on-year-on-year basis while Pakistan’s imports from Qatar appreciated to $2.68 billion in FY22 as compared to $1.32 billion in FY21, reflecting growth of over 100 percent on-year-on-year basis.

Urging Qatari investors to explore the opportunities available in CPEC, he said that Pakistan has tremendous investment opportunities in Energy, Transport Infrastructure, Gwadar, Socio-Economic Development, Science and Technology and Agriculture Cooperation. “Qatari investors can capitalize on advancing energy-related cooperation, promoting trade and investment ties, exploring opportunities and joint ventures in Pakistan’s energy, aviation, agriculture and livestock, maritime, sports and hospitality sectors, which will pave way for further strengthening Pak-Qatar economic relationship.