Qatar to allow 100% foreign ownership in some sectors

March 31, 2010

Qatar is mulling an amendment to its investment law that allows up to 100% foreign ownership in certain commercial enterprises, a local daily reported on Wednesday.

“The Minister of Business and Trade may now issue a resolution to allow the foreign ownership limit to exceed 49% in the sectors of business consulting, technical services, information technology, distribution services and cultural, sports and leisure services,” Gulf Times said.

Outside investors have since 2000 been exempt from the 49% capital ownership rule only if they were involved in agriculture, manufacturing, health, tourism, development and exploitation of natural resources, energy or mining.

The amendment is part of a national strategy to “enhance competitiveness and attract investment in a dynamic and increasingly borderless international economy”, as outlined in the economic development goals of Qatar Vision 2030, the paper said.

“The amendment creates opportunities for foreign partners to buy, and for Qatari partners to sell their ownership interests in joint venture companies,” Andrew Wingfield, Qatar-based partner of international law firm Simmons & Simmons, was quoted as saying. “It may be worth checking whether existing articles of association or joint venture agreements set out share transfer mechanisms in the event of changes in law.”

Overseas investors will be allowed to set up new companies and stop providing services and products through joint venture operations.

According to Gulf Times, Stephen Anderson, Lead Advisory Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers Qatar, welcomed the move. “This is a vital step in Qatar moving towards the 2030 Vision. The volume of interest in Qatar at the International Investment Forum in Paris last week was phenomenal,” he said. “We have seen a dramatic rise in interest from our international client base in investment and business opportunities in recent months here in Qatar. The loosening of restrictions on foreign ownership will further boost the flow of not just capital into Qatar but importantly knowledge and innovation.”

In a bid to attract more business, Qatar had previously cut its corporate tax rate to 10 percent from as high as 35 per cent.



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About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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