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|Qatar||Info-Prod Country Guide|
|CHARACTERISTICS INDICATORS THE ECONOMY INVESTMENT ISSUES PROJECTS PROSPECTS|
Investment and Trade Issues
The Law Regulating the Investment of Non-Qatari Capital in Economic Activities No. 25 of 1990 governs the area of foreign investment in Qatar. Under this law, non-Qataris are allowed to engage in trade, industry, agriculture and services under the condition that the non-Qatari investor must have one or more Qatari partners whose share in the business capital is at least 51 percent and that the business relationship with the Qatari partner must be carried on through a commercial company incorporated according to the Companies Law No.11 of 1986 (see section on Business Forms and Structures). The law does not permit non-Qataris to own shares in a joint stock company unless the shareholder is a national of an Arab country which has reciprocal agreements with Qatar or if there is a need for foreign capital or experience, and a license to that effect is obtained from the Minister of Finance, Economy and Commerce.
Non-Qataris meeting the above requirements may also carry on contracting business upon the fulfillment of additional conditions. A special license from the Minister of Finance, Economy and Commerce must be issued following consultation with relevant government authorities. This requires an application to be made to the Minister supported by all relevant documents. If thirty days elapse without a reply from the Minister, the application is presumed to have been rejected. Applicants whose applications were rejected may appeal to the Minister within thirty days. The decision in the appeal is final.
In determining applications, one of the factors considered is the demand for the type of business for which an application is made. Businesses engaging in fields for which there is a high demand in Qatar include businesses with high technology expertise.
In 1997, Qatar finalized legislation to abolish the requirement of 51 percent Qatari ownership. This step is aimed at attracting foreign investment in small and medium scale businesses. The new legislation will come into force pending the Emir's approval.
Qatar became a member of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1996. Prior to that time, it participated in GATT as an observer. As a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Qatar participates in the GCC's free trade arrangements. Qatar also became a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995.
Qatar has been engaged through the GCC in trade and investment negotiations with the United States, the European Community and Japan. The dialogue initiated among them is on-going. In addition to the GCC Economic Agreement (1983) signed among member states of the GCC, Qatar has signed economic/commercial agreements with Egypt and Tunisia in recent years.
Import and Export Restrictions
Goods and commodities imported into Qatar are subject to customs tariffs as follows:
Imports into Qatar require an import license, which may be issued only to Qatari citizens. Agents and agency agreements are subject to the Law Concerning the Regulation of Activities of Local Commercial Agencies and Their Foreign Principals 4/1986, as discussed in the above section on Commercial Agencies.
In accordance with Islamic tradition, the importation of pork and pork products is prohibited. Also prohibited are firearms, ammunition, immodest prints and pictures, narcotics and artificial pearls. Alcohol and alcohol products are discouraged by the imposition of heavy customs duties.
Goods from other Gulf Cooperation Council countries are given preferential tariff rates. According to a reciprocity agreement among the GCC states, products of GCC origin are exempted from customs duties. Except for steel, along with tobacco and cigarettes, all general merchandise is subject to 4 percent customs duties. The current rate of customs duty for steel is 20 percent, 10 percent for hi-fi equipment and 50 percent for tobacco and cigarettes.
There are no export charges on goods or commodities exported from Qatar.
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