In the Name of God, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to welcome all of you to Qatar Economic Forum, which is held in cooperation with Bloomberg, and which represents a springboard for a series of forums aimed at enriching the dialogue on the global economy and proceeding to the next post-COVID-19 phase. We are confident that the first edition of this forum will constitute a qualitative addition to the joint efforts of our countries and societies, and the cooperation between them and the business sector, in facing various challenges and building a better future for all of our peoples.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our meeting today comes while we are in the midst of a confrontation with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has posed a serious and unprecedented challenge to all humanity in all spheres, including the economic field, where endless discussions took place about the fallacious trade-off between people’s health and economic health; and where a blurriness overshadowed the expectations of international institutions regarding the future prospects of the global economy, especially that the world has not yet moved to a post-pandemic phase in the shadow of the waves of renewed variants and mutations of the virus that underlined a state of uncertainty.
Despite this, the International Monetary Fund indicated in its report issued in April 2021 that the global economy will achieve a 6% growth in 2021 and 4.4% in 2022.
This optimism is attributable to the relative recovery of a number of vital economic sectors during the current year as a result of the financial stimulus packages introduced by many countries to support their economies, driven by the evolvement of vaccination campaigns around the world, despite the uneven distribution of the vaccine.
The adaptation of societies to the conditions of the pandemic has led to a massive advancement in digital technology, including providing online education and distance working opportunities in an unprecedented way. This will undoubtedly have an impact on post-pandemic economies as well.
The pandemic has re-posed major questions concerning the relation of modern societies to nature, the society’s expectations of the State regarding public health policies, the State’s relationship with the economy, and global cooperation in facing the challenges that cross the States’ borders, nationalities and cultures, such as epidemics, climate change, poverty and refugee issues.
It has been proven once again that, firstly: it is unavoidable to address these questions, as every major event like this reminds us of them, and secondly: sharp approaches don’t necessarily provide real answers. It has been proven, for example, that the role of the State is indispensable after many experts considered that it had withered away in the era of globalization, as in the case of the last financial crisis during 2008 and 2009, it was found that the societies’ expectations in the event of a pandemic are orientated towards the State, and that the role of the State is indispensable. On the other hand, it has been proven that such challenges cannot be overcome by solely relying on the efforts of the Nation State, as the efforts of confrontation must include the civil society and the business sector, and must be coordinated globally, the same applies to investing in research, predicting upcoming epidemics, and producing and distributing vaccines. These matters should not be left to the Nation State alone, nor to the laws of the market and the international trade alone to regulate them. It has been proven once again that theoretical answers and sharp ideologies are misleading.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The State of Qatar has spared no effort in responding quickly to tackle the serious repercussions of the pandemic, as we have issued directives for adopting a strategy based on three main axes which are protecting all members of the society by strengthening the medical sector; especially the public health sector, providing the necessary support to the economy to reduce the negative impacts of the pandemic, and contributing to the international efforts against the virus by providing assistance to relevant countries and international organizations. Based on this strategy, we have adopted a national vaccination program against the virus. This program has recently exceeded the number of two million and eight hundred thousand doses. To date, approximately 65% of the population received the vaccine. We have also directed to take all necessary measures to mitigate the economic consequences of the pandemic and to provide an amount of QR 75 billion in support of the harmed private sector.
We have adopted resilience and non-extremism in the opening and lock-down procedures, to be a major approach in addressing the current situation based on our previous experiences in countering crises, where proactive thinking and speed of adaptation to various variables constituted a fundamental pillar to achieve progress in our development plans and programs, especially by promoting self-reliance as much as possible in vital fields, adopting economic diversification, supporting the private sector and stimulating investment to achieve our national vision.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In preparation for the next stage, we were keen to adopt a balanced economic policy by continuing to expand the gas project in the North Field with the aim of increasing the production of liquefied natural gas output by 40% by the year 2026 and the revenues of this increase will be used to enhance our investments for the benefit of future generations, which will contribute to diversifying sources of income. We have also supported non-oil sectors whose contribution to the GDP exceeded 61% at constant prices in 2020.
In this context, we took an approach to develop environment-friendly industries, establish the legislative frameworks that enhance the business environment attractiveness such as enacting the law regulating investment of non-Qatari capital in economic activity, and the law regulating partnership between the public and private sectors, as well as investing in vital and important sectors including health and technology, developing the free zones, and pursuing the expansion of Hamad International Airport and Hamad Port in a way that consolidates our country’s economic openness and enhance our trade relations with various countries.
We are a natural gas exporting country, which is a low-carbon and least harmful energy to the environment, yet we are investing in researches related to green, alternative and sustainable energy, and we plan to move Qatar towards that end, moreover, we also contribute to the global efforts to combat climate change.
We are all aware that the next stage will not be easy economically and financially for any country. We must cooperate to narrow the gap between the developed and the developing countries, especially in accessing the vaccine and countering the repercussions of the epidemic.
The State of Qatar has taken great strides in this course by providing the necessary assistance to more than eighty countries and international organizations, pledging our support to the World Health Organization, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), besides many other international organizations and international programs such as COVAX, which aims to make the vaccine accessible fairly and equitably to more than 92 countries in need of official development assistance by the end of this year.
I want to stress here that making vaccines against COVID-19 is a commendable humanitarian effort, but racing and competition by some countries to obtain quantities that exceed their needs will cripple the international efforts to control the pandemic globally, in addition to obstructing the development process in the developing and the poor countries.
From this platform, I call upon the leaders of the world countries, especially the major industrialized countries for more cooperation, within the framework of the international system, sharing the responsibility, and working together for a just and comprehensive distribution of the vaccine in a manner that would pave the way for establishing an integrated global social and economic system in line with the sustainable global development goals to achieve well being and stability to our peoples.
Thank you all, may peace, mercy and blessings of God be upon you.