What has traditionally been the importance of Qatar for the interests of Canadian public and private sectors, and how can the progressive achievement of Qatar National Vision 2030 enhance this relationship in terms of new areas of cooperation?
Canada and Qatar have enjoyed uninterrupted diplomatic relations for 46 years. Our relationship is warm and growing, and Qatar is a key partner for Canada in the Gulf region. The people-to-people connections underpin this steadfast relationship based on mutual respect for each other and cooperation toward shared goals. Our dynamic Canadian expatriate community is active in Qatar and helps advance our mutual interests and strengthen trade and investment ties. We are seeing growth in our bilateral relations. For example, 2019 bilateral trade between Canada and Qatar increased 35% compared to 2018, which resulted in Qatar becoming Canada's third-largest trading partner in the region, an important milestone for Canadian-Qatari trade relations. Canada has the expertise and the capacity to continue playing an important role in supporting Qatar's National Vision 2030, the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and its drive for self sufficiency in many sectors. Take the health sector, for example. Canada has played a significant and leading role in Qatar's health for a long time and in a variety of areas including accreditation, education and training, and medical supplies. Canada is in the privileged position of having two important institutions offering top-tier Canadian healthcare education in Qatar: the University of Calgary in Qatar delivering its nursing programs, and the College of the North Atlantic – Qatar offering various diplomas and courses in allied healthcare through its School of Health Sciences. In addition, Canadian companies and organizations have long supplied Qatar with essential equipment, tools, and training in best practices in healthcare. Looking to the future, we would like to continue to build stronger linkages in the fields of agriculture, defence and security, clean technologies, and ICT.
What potential does Qatar have to become an important partner in the pharmaceutical, high-tech, and F&B industries, which have traditionally been important to Canada and are specifically targeted by the government of Qatar?
The Embassy of Canada to Qatar is always monitoring new policy developments and initiatives that aim to position Qatar as an even more attractive business and investment destination for Canadian companies. The introduction of new regulations, laws, free zones, incentive programs, and other similarly important mechanisms all serve to increase Qatar's competitiveness and attractiveness for the international business community. We work closely with various partners to raise awareness among the Canadian business community about important developments in Qatar and encourage them to explore the various opportunities available to them. The Canadian Business Council Qatar (CBCQ) based in Doha and the Canada-Arab Business Council (CABC) based in Toronto are two important partners in this regard. Canada and Qatar already enjoy a strong relationship in various sectors, but we see tremendous opportunity for growth and diversification. In fact, Canada is a global leader in many areas that are priorities for the government of Qatar, including health, education, social development, the environment, and respect for human rights and the multilateral system. Moreover, our companies have much to offer in these strategic sectors—particularly agriculture, life sciences, clean technology, education and ICT. Canada and Qatar will continue to explore opportunities and identify synergies that are mutually beneficial in both trade and investment. Much positive momentum had been built between our two countries, and although the pandemic has significantly hampered travel and business mobility, I expect our forward momentum will be re-established quickly once global travel restrictions ease, and the worst of the pandemic is behind us. Despite these challenges, we have continued to work closely with our partners in government and the private sector to facilitate trade and investment, and to strengthen bilateral frameworks—such as the negotiation of a Foreign Investment Protection Agreement and the expansion of our Air Transportation Agreement—to build confidence and create all the conditions necessary for growth in trade and investment. ✖