Press releases

Qatar’s Prime Minister opens the World Export Development Forum in Qatar

20 October 2015
ITC News
Policymakers and business leaders meeting in Doha to discuss global trade, investment and development

His Excellency Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani, Prime Minister and Minister of Interior of the State of Qatar, today opened the World Export Development Forum (WEDF), which is taking place in Doha, Qatar. More than 700 people from 92 countries are attending the event, which is organized by the International Trade Centre (ITC) and hosted by the Ministry of Economy and Commerce of the State of Qatar through the Qatar Development Bank.

Opening WEDF, Prime Minister Abdullah Bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani told the audience that the sustainability of international trade flows must go hand-in-hand with significant investment efforts, as well as innovative policies and appropriate institutional arrangements. ‘Whether we want it or not, continuing to fulfill our countries’ economic development potential will demand from all of us the courage and vision to adapt our existing policy frameworks to better deal with economic and social change everywhere,’ he said.

ITC Executive Director Arancha González said that more open trade and investment – and especially more competitive small and medium enterprises (SMEs) – can help the world generate sustainable and inclusive growth and reach the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, which were agreed by world leaders at the United Nations last month.

‘Sustainable, because growth needs to be compatible with our planet; and inclusive because growth must work for all, including for youth and women,’ she said. ‘This must be growth anchored in SMEs, which represent 90% of all businesses worldwide and which generate seven of every ten jobs.’

‘Supporting SMEs to internationalize and helping them connect to markets or tap into value chains are key to fostering more dynamic and innovative economies and ensuring growth is sustained and sustainable,’ she said.

His Excellency Sheikh Ahmed Bin Jassim Al Thani , Minister of Economy and Commerce, said that Qatar has embarked on a path towards more sustainable growth, diversifying the economy away from hydrocarbons, pointing out that the non-hydrocarbon sector now accounts for more than 50% of the country’s economy.

‘We need to have a solid and sustainable export-oriented private sector,’ said Sheikh Ahmed Bin Jassim Al Thani. ‘Achieving this will greatly reduce our economy’s inherent exposure to international markets, an area that we now actively manage both at the micro as well as the economy-wide level.’

Abdulaziz Al Khalifa, CEO of QDB, said: ‘For Qatar, it is an honour to host WEDF, which has become a leading platform for policymakers to talk and do business. It is also recognition of Qatar as a bridge, linking continents together through trade.’

‘SMEs play a leading role in Qatar’s ongoing diversification efforts. WEDF allows us to strengthen this work by sharing ideas and learning from others. It also provides an ideal platform to shine a spotlight on how SMEs can contribute to inclusive growth by building linkages with foreign companies and connecting to value chains,’ he said.

‘Sustainable trade: Innovate, invest, internationalize’ is the theme of this year’s WEDF, which comes on the heels of the adoption by world leaders of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. This new global agenda seeks to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030 while stimulating socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable economic growth. It specifically calls for encouraging the growth of SME to boost job creation and economic opportunities for all.

Speakers in Doha will address the unique challenges and opportunities faced by SMEs in developing countries and economies in transition. They will point to how these businesses, which account for the bulk of employment around the world, can be empowered to use international trade and investment to drive growth and job creation.

The two-day event will consist of four plenary sessions and four parallel breakout sessions, alongside structured and informal B2B meetings aimed at enabling participating SMEs to meet potential customers, suppliers, and investors.

Notes to the Editor

About the International Trade Centre

ITC is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. ITC assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transition economies to become more competitive in global markets, thereby contributing to sustainable economic development within the frameworks of the Aid-for-Trade agenda and the Millennium Development Goals.

About the Qatar Development Bank

Qatar Development Bank was established in 1997, a 100% government-owned developmental organization. Its primary aim was to develop investments within local industries, accelerating growth and economic diversification in Qatar through support for private sector. QDB has launched a number of strategic initiatives and programs, all designed to directly contribute to the economic growth and development of Qatar.

QDB’s strategy is entirely in line with QNV 2030. It is focused on promoting and facilitating the growth of the private sector in Qatar within key economic channels. This support will enable the development of long term, sustainable social and economic benefits across the economy.