Further changes were made in 2009, when the Council of Ministers agreed on the amendments proposed by the Ministry of Economy and Trade, which oversee domestic trade and investment activities, in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Qatar Investment Promotion Department and the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry. These amendments allow foreign investors to hold 100% of the shares in certain service sectors, including corporate consulting, ICT, culture, sport, entertainment and distribution. Qatar`s science and technology park, a free zone, was inaugurated in 2009 and offers foreign investors exemptions from taxes, tariffs and catarrification quotas (see analysis). However, some sectors remain closed to competition both abroad and domestic competition, including public transport, utilities, steel, cement, fuel distribution and marketing. The 2014 changes are part of reforms to expand the state`s stock market – the second largest in the GCC after Saudi Arabia, with a capitalization of $187 billion as of February 2015. As part of the agreement, joint promotional actions will be implemented to help the private sector reap the benefits of the free zones established in both countries. Sustainable development is a priority in the government`s trade and investment strategy. The Investment Act requires public authorities, when approving majority foreign ownership of a project, to ensure that it adapts to the broader development plans of the state, as led by Qatari National Vision 2030 (QNV 2030), which aims to increase economic diversification, stimulate non-oil growth, improve the value of the hydrocarbon sector and develop human capital. In a 2014 report on the investment climate, the U.S. State Department found that Qatar prioritized foreign investment in projects using local raw materials, manufacturing export products, creating new products, using innovative technologies, supporting knowledge transfer and improving human resources.
In the construction sector, in line with Qatar`s diversification and development priorities in QNV 2030, large-scale contracts are generally awarded to joint ventures between foreign and local companies. Promotional actions aim to increase mutual investment by investors from both countries in free zones and effectively transfer to investors the broad opportunities and incentives offered by free zones. Close economic relations between the two allies have strengthened considerably following a Saudi-imposed embargo against Qatar. Ankara has become one of Qatar`s main partners since the Saudi-led bloc launched a trade and diplomatic boycott of the Gulf state in 2017 and sent additional troops and supplies shortly after the embargo began to meet Qatar`s needs. The volume of trade between the two countries increased by 6% in 2020 to reach $1.6 billion. According to the Turkish Embassy in Doha, Qatar`s investments in Turkey amounted to $22 billion. At the end of 2018, the volume of trade between the two countries increased by 57% compared to 2017, reaching $1.4 billion. The sale of 10% of shares of the Turkish stock exchange in Borsa Istanbul was at the top of the list of agreements concluded during the day. The following agreements have been replaced by the Ue-Turkey customs union: in the meantime, the MoU has been signed through the Turkey-Qatar Free Trade Area and joint promotional activities are of great importance for the development of trade and economic relations between the two countries. BILATERAL COMMERCE: According to the EC, six of Qatar`s top ten trading partners are East Asian countries, led by Japan (1st) and South Korea (2nd), with India, China and Singapore in fourth, fifth and sixth place and Thailand in eighth place.