Saturday, July 20, 2024

The German and Qatari governments strongly believe in the power of negotiations


The German and Qatari governments strongly believe in the power of negotiations

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The robust economic ties between Qatar and Germany, particularly in trade and investments, are truly noteworthy. Could you delve into the key drivers that have fostered such a strong economic relationship, especially considering Qatar’s position as Germany’s third-largest trading partner in the Gulf region?

Botschafter Lothar Freischlader: The German Economy was and is highly export-oriented and therefore export dependent. Almost every fourth job in Germany depends on exports. The backbone of the German industry are mostly small or medium sized enterprises (SMes), predominantly family owned. German businesses face intense competition from both local and international competitors, especially when operating globally. However, the German export success continues due to the superior quality and safety standards of German products, giving competitors a cutting edge. The “Made in Germany” label is selling well, also in the Gulf States.

German companies and the Germans are also highly valued for their professional and reliable services. As a proof to that, look at the large number of German hotel managers here in Qatar. Establishing and then maintaining long-standing, devoted and trustworthy business relationships are very important matters in German business.

In previous years, motor vehicles and motor vehicle parts were Germany’s most important export goods in 2022 (with 246.3 billion Euros and a share of 15.4% of total German exports). Machineries followed in second place and chemical products were third place. These three sectors collectively make up approximately 40% of German exports. In fact, these products are high on demand in Qatar. Consumers here value high-quality goods and Germany’s ability to deliver.

Being a country poor in raw materials, Germany at the same time is heavily dependent on imports, especially in the energy sector. Qatar plays an important role in Germany’s strategy to diversify its energy imports and energy security. During the visit of HH The Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to Berlin in May 2022, both countries signed an energy partnership to strengthen collaboration on energy-related issues. Six months later and after the German Chancellor paid Doha a visit in September 2022, Germany agreed on a 15-year contract with Qatar’s state company QatarEnergy in November 2022, to purchase yearly 2 million tons of LNG starting from the year 2026.

The deliveries will cover parts of Germany’s gas needs, will contribute to Germany’s energy security and deepen our bilateral cooperation. Moreover, HH The Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani visited Berlin once again in October 2023, followed by a visit from the German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier end of November 2023, not mentioning several other high-level visits on minister or state secretary level.

Qatar holds significant stakes in key German industries, spanning various sectors and amounting to 25 to 30 billion euros. How has this substantial financial presence influenced diplomatic and economic relations between the two countries?

Botschafter Lothar Freischlader: It was a remarkable development. During the last decade, Qatar has made substantial investments in Germany, ranking it as their second most important targeted country for investment after the UK and as one of the largest foreign investor in Germany with investments ranging from 25 to 30 billion Euros. Qatar holds stakes in German companies like Volkswagen, Siemens, RWE, Deutsche Bank and Hapag-Lloyd. Qatar, itself a prudent and strategic investor, is appreciating Germany’s sound finances, its conservative investment climate and its robust and transparent regulatory environment which contributes to good returns on investments. 

Conversely in Qatar, approximately 100 leading German companies are actively operating across various sectors – showcasing their commitment and emphasizing the quality of their contributions: From factory construction to infrastructure, energy production, engagements in the Qatar Science and Technology Park, industry, the service sector, consulting, transportation – you name it. German companies are also visibly involved in Qatar’s oil and gas fields.

approximately 100 leading German companies are actively operating across various sectors – showcasing their commitment and emphasizing the quality of their contributions

Botschafter Lothar Freischlader

With PIH’s recent adoption of RISE along with SAP in October 2023, it was dedicated to technological innovation. How do you see collaborations between German tech giants and Qatari businesses contributing to broader bilateral relations, particularly in fostering innovation and economic ties between Germany and Qatar?

Botschafter Lothar Freischlader: German companies engaging in business in Qatar value the business infrastructure here. Moreover, they find a conducive environment in the burgeoning innovative businesses here. In their exchanges with Qatari business men and women, German companies benefit from integrated networks and often extensive personal contacts in the GCC region and beyond. This helps in opening doors and in establishing small ecosystems for new players on the ground.

In your opinion, how can cultural and academic exchanges contribute to fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation between the people of Qatar and Germany, and are there specific initiatives that stand out in this regard?

Botschafter Lothar Freischlader: I firmly believe that cultural and academic exchange is the perfect vehicle to foster mutual understanding. A noteworthy example here in Doha is the German International School Doha (DISD), which has been delivering high quality education following the German curriculum for the past 15 years and was awarded the prestigious Certificate of Excellence by the German government. 

In order to really understand a different culture, it is important to dive into the language of the country, it’s history, art scene, landscapes, architecture etc. Even without physical travel, there are various opportunities to gain these valuable insights. In Doha, for instance, individuals can enrol in German language classes at the TII at HBKU, explore exhibitions displaying the technology or art of the other country (like the Vitra Design Museum’s exhibition that was held at M7 last year), attend film festivals, or participate in cultural events like the annual EU-Jazz Festival at Katara Cultural Center. We are hopeful for its recurrence this year after being postponed last year. These experiences are essential for everyone seeking a profound sense of a different culture. 

In order to really understand a different culture, it is important to dive into the language of the country, it’s history, art scene, landscapes, architecture etc.

Botschafter Lothar Freischlade

Qatar itself has a rich cultural diversity. No wonder it attracts experts from various countries to its cultural sector, which again fosters diversity and further contributes significantly to cultural exchange. For instance in terms of German-Qatari exchange: The Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra, being managed by a German since 2007, features many German musicians. Another remarkable personnel matter the German-born Dr. Julia Gonnella, who was the Director of the Museum of Islamic Art for almost seven years, and is now the Director of the Lusail Museum – a global think tank and a world-class art museum.

Given the evolving geopolitical landscape, what strategic role do you envision for Qatar and Germany in collectively tackling regional crises and global challenges, and are there specific initiatives on the horizon that reflect this shared commitment?

Botschafter Lothar Freischlader: The German and Qatari governments strongly believe in the power of negotiations and adhere to the mandates of UN organizations. We are in regular bilateral and multilateral contact and consultations. Given the growing number of crises arising from conflicts, hunger, and the impacts of climate change, it is evident that collective effort is required. Germany and Qatar stand as significant contributors to the United Nations and its various organizations, also providing direct assistance wherever necessary. Germany actively assesses areas where coordinated efforts or a joint approach with Qatar would contribute to address the growing challenges posed by these crises.

What are your expectations regarding the development of new Qatari-German partnerships?

Botschafter Lothar Freischlader: Germany and Qatar have just celebrated 50 years of diplomatic relations last year after their establishment in 1973. In particular over the past two years, we have witnessed a significant number of high-profile political visits, underscoring the strength of our relations. But we also have institutionalized meetings looking at issues of common concern and interests. The success of the 2022 Football World Cup attracted many Germans to Qatar. They were amazed and impressed by their firsthand experience of the country and touched by the warmhearted openness of the Qatari people as hosts of the World Cup.

In addition to that, our bilateral strategic dialogue focuses on enhancing people-to-people exchanges. But we also aim to broaden our relationship with Qatar, extending beyond political matters to encompass areas such as climate change, education, scientific collaboration, and overall exchanges. Renowned German Universities and the excellent academic landscape in Doha are great preconditions for future partnerships. These collaborations align well with Qatar’s National Vision 2030.

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