Italy, which is closely involved with Qatar’s initiatives in food security and in the agro-food industry, is expected to boost its food exports by 2019, Italian ambassador Pasquale Salzano has said.
In the first six months of 2018, Salzano said Italy witnessed a 4% growth in food exports to Qatar. Food is among the major sectors that witnessed growth in the first half of the year, including machinery, which saw a 2% increase, fashion (11%), and furniture (26%).
These figures contributed to the growth of Qatar-Italy trade exchange, which stood at €1.4bn from January to June 2018. Comparatively, total trade volume between both countries stood at roughly €2bn last year, Salzano told Gulf Times.
In July this year, a high-level delegation led by Italian National Coldiretti Union national president Roberto Moncalvo and Filiera Agricola Italiana Inc national president Ettore Prandini were in Qatar for a series of meetings, which were organised with the support of the Italian embassy in Qatar and the local office of the Italian Trade Agency “to offer Doha a very significant support in its food chain distribution.”
The visit will help in the increase of Italian food exports to Qatar by next year, according to Salzano, who notes that the agro-food industry is among “the most relevant interests we are working on” with the State of Qatar.
The Italian delegation, which also included main players of the Italian agricultural production and network, met with the then Minister of Municipality and Environment HE Mohamed bin Abdullah al-Rumaihi, Qatar Chamber board member Mohamed bin Ahmed al-Obaidly and officials of Baladna and LuLu Group Qatar.
Several meetings were held on the next day with officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Qatar Investment Authority, Hassad Food and Qatar Ports Management Company (Mwani Qatar), as well as private sector companies Agrotec and PRAS Qatar.
“We are currently co-ordinating with Coldiretti, which is the most important association of farmers in Italy because food security is one of the main issues Qatar is focusing on. So, aside from defense, we are also working on other major sectors, such as the agro-food industry, hence we are going to have Italian companies investing in Qatar in food and water security,” Salzano emphasized.
On Qatar’s food security programmes, Salzano said Italy is participating in the construction of a food storage and processing facility at Hamad Port, which is capable of supplying stockpile for three main commodities – rice, sugar, and edible oils, for 3mn people for two-and-a-half years.
In a signing ceremony held in July last year, HE the Minister of Transport and Communications Jassim Seif Ahmed al-Sulaiti said the QR1.6bn facility will be built on a 530,000sq m area adjacent to Hamad Port.
He added that the project consists of specialized facilities for the processing, manufacturing, and the refining of rice, raw sugar, and edible oils, which “will be available for local, regional, and global use.”