Qatar has pledged to invest £5bn in Britain over the next three to five years, in a vote of confidence for post-Brexit Britain.
Speaking at the Qatar-UK Business and Investment Forum in London, Qatari finance minister Ali Sharif Al-Emadi told the BBC he was optimistic about Britain’s future economy and untroubled by Brexit.
“Currently the UK is our first investment destination and it is the largest investment destination for Qatari investors, both public and private,” he said.
Al-Emadi added that Qatar would invest an additional £5bn in the next three to five years on energy, infrastructure, real estate and services.
Qatar has already invested more than £40bn in the UK using its sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA). It has bought trophy assets in London such as the Shard building and Harrods department store, and stakes in the banking district Canary Wharf.
QIA manages assets worth around $335bn, according to US wealth fund analysts the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute.
Al-Emadi was part of a delegation of more than 400 officials and business executives visiting the UK for a two-day investment forum led by the UK prime minister, Theresa May.
Chief executives of QIA, Qatar Petroleum and Qatar Airways were present, according to Reuters.
At the forum, May announced that Qatar and the UK had signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish economic collaboration between the nations.
“This will deepen the cooperation between our governments and our businesses across a wide range of vital areas including education and healthcare, science, research and innovation, tourism and culture, transport, energy, financial services and the development of small businesses,” she said.
After the forum, Qatari energy minister Mohammed bin Saleh Al-Sada told the BBC that Qatar sees Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU) as an opportunity to boost supplies of natural gas to the UK.
“We can sense the possibility of the UK’s manufacturing power going higher and with that the need for energy,” he said. “For that, Qatar will always be there to supply the energy required.”
Qatar delivers 90% of the UK’s imports of liquefied natural gas, according to Bloomberg.
Liam Fox, UK secretary of state for international trade, told the delegation that Qatar made an ideal post-Brexit trading partner.
“We are looking beyond the boundaries of our own continent, ready to embrace all the opportunities of this new era,” he said.
Fox added that the UK would double the export finance available to support trade with Qatar to £4.5bn.
The Qatari delegation’s visit coincided with the triggering of Article 50, officially starting the UK’s divorce with the EU.
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