Qatar-Australia relations see potential for new economy; Qatari Official

By Shilpa Annie Joseph, Official Reporter
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Qatar’s Ambassador to Australia, Jonathan Muir has stated that the Qatar-Australia trade and economic relations have enormous scope to expand beyond conventional commodities, especially into new economies such as fintech in view of the strong complementarities between countries.

Mr. Muir was speaking at the webinar titled ‘An Exploration of Australia-Qatar Tech Future’, which aimed at equipping Australia and Qatar-based startups with an overview of their respective markets, their challenges, and opportunities.

Jonathan Muir
Jonathan Muir
Australian Ambassador

“There is plenty to be optimistic about. There are strong complementarities already in place between Australia and Qatar. There is plenty of scopes to explore newer areas of opportunities, the most obvious being the new economies. Qatar has a sizeable market and one should not overlook its value and role as a global hub and the co-operation should be in areas where Australia has globally recognized strengths while focusing on Qatar’s robust infrastructure facilities.”

Doha has been supporting start-ups and mature technology companies through the Qatar Fintech Center, which has already received more than 750 applications to develop its operations in the region. One of the early-stage fintech companies for the incubator is Australia’s Da Vinci+.

Furthermore, Mr. Muir has commented that the trade and economic relations between the two countries have rather been dominated by traditional commodities. Qatar has maintained its position as Australia’s second-largest trading partner in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and Australia remained Qatar’s twelfth largest source of merchandise imports.

The overall balance of trade registered a $140 million (QR510 million) surplus in Qatar’s favor. Qatar’s services exports to Australia increased by 5.5 percent to $557 million (QR2.03 billion).

“Qatar’s strength in aviation services has played an important role in keeping Australian exporters connected with global markets,” noted Mr. Muir.

There is also close cooperation between the two countries in science and technology research and innovation, Muir said, adding that in recent years, more than 24 Australian universities have undertaken joint projects with Qatari institutions, including an agreement signed last year between Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) and Curtin University.