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The New Arab

Brexit Britain seeks grand bargains with Gulf state Qatar

Trade between the UK and the GCC totals billions annually [Getty]

Date of publication: 27 March, 2017

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The Qatar-UK Business and Investment Forum is set to get underway on Monday as the UK seeks new investment deals in preparation for Brexit.

The UK is set to host the largest ever business delegation from Qatar as it seeks new investment deals ahead of Brexit. 

The two day joint Qatar-UK Business and Investment Forum is set to get underway on Monday.

The first day of the forum will be held in London, the second in Birmingham.

Participants from the Qatari government are set to include the Gulf states Ministers of Finance, Economy and Commerce, Energy and Industry, and Transport for Communication. 

The second day of the event will see the first ever commercial forum between the Qatar and the UK in Birmingham, which according to the British Ministry of International Trade, has the largest concentration of British and international companies outside London. 

During the forum Birmingham municipality is set to look for investment into infrastructure development projects for the city. 

Officials from Birmingham City Council conducted a three day tour of Gulf states in January and are reported to be seeking investments totaling some $6.5 billion. 

Qatar has investments totalling billions in the UK in sectors including construction, retail, banking, energy, and transport. 

In a related development on Sunday Reuters reported that Qatar, and other Gulf states, are currently looking to sign a free trade agreement with the UK to secure preferential deals once Brexit comes into place.

Gulf officials, who spoke to Reuters, say they are hopeful a draft agreement could be ready within months.

Britain is not permitted to sign trade agreements until it officially leaves the European Union. 

However the British government is seeking to line up deals that could be concluded quickly once Brexit begins. 

Currently trade between the UK and the GCC comes to around £30 billion annually (around $37.5 billion).

A Qatari official who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity said that a meeting between the UK's Chancellor of the Exchequeer Philip Hammond and Qatari finance minister Ali Sherif al-Emadi took place in December during which a draft of a free trade deal was discussed. 

GCC states are looking to diversify their oil-trade reliant economies following more than two years of low global oil prices.

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