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UK firms in Qatar keen to develop better co-operation after Brexit.

Cook: Mixed picture.

Peter Alagos

More than a month after the UK voted for exiting the European Union, British companies in Qatar are keen to develop "better co-operation" to support business between both the countries, an official of the British Chamber of Commerce in Qatar (BCCQ) said.

BCCQ managing director Peter Cook, who earlier called for stability in the wake of the Brexit vote, said the market, that had "early worries and concerns," has settled despite some uncertainties.

"I think, overall, businesses are settling down to the reality of the Brexit vote and are trying to work out whether the decision to leave the EU would require a change in their strategy or business plan, while some are looking at new markets and opportunities to see if they can exploit the opportunity, and I think that is something that is to be encouraged," Cook told Gulf Times yesterday.

"So, it is still a slightly mixed picture; we don't have a complete understanding on how the business community feels but I think some of the early worries have proved to be less dramatic," he said.

Asked about the general sentiment of UK business based in Qatar after the Brexit vote, Cook said companies consider it important to look at "a very careful process" on the best ways to support Qatari and British businesses.

"They are very keen to look at some of the issues...but I think we also want to look at how we can develop more co-operation and how we could work together successfully in projects, whether if it's in oil and gas, infrastructure, or new technologies," he said.

Cook said the UK has around 400 companies operating in Qatar in the areas of retail, infrastructure, telecommunications, Information Technology, and professional services, among others.

"The trade between Qatar and Britain is not only on oil and gas. There are many other sectors where we are active and I think there are many different sectors that have their own set of interests and issues, and each of them want to promote those," he said.

Asked if the BCCQ met with embassy and state officials to discuss the concerns of UK companies, Cook said "government to government contacts" are led by the British embassy.

"We have a regular dialogue with the British embassy where we share our views and opinions on what is happening in the marketplace and I think the embassy uses that with its conversations with the Qatar authorities. But I know that there would be more conversations in the coming period," he said.

Citing new officials in the British government, Cook noted that one of the consequences of Brexit is the need for Britain to secure new trade agreements.

"I think that will be an opportunity to look at -- how we can strengthen our trade relations with all our partners. But obviously, in Qatar it is very important that we work on how we can strengthen our relationship with the state, and do more business with each other because that is good for both sides.

"And obviously, British companies would want to try and influence that agreement in a way that makes their own businesses successful and profitable in the future. I want to play my part in that and do what I can to support UK and Qatari companies," Cook said.

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Publication:Gulf Times (Doha, Qatar)
Geographic Code:7QATA
Date:Aug 2, 2016
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