The next Strategic Dialogue session between the two countries is planned for Doha in 2024.
Qatar and the United Kingdom discussed their commitments to continue making progress in areas of ongoing collaboration during the launch of the first annual Qatar-UK Strategic Dialogue in London on Monday, with experts saying the fresh calm in politics in London may lead to more positive changes.
Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani and his counterpart James Cleverly were present to launch the first annual Qatar-UK Strategic Dialogue. During the event, the two highlighted that Qatar and UK relations had continued on a healthy track and pledged to make it even stronger.
Launched in an effort to celebrate the robust and expanding bilateral relationship between the two sides, the meeting between the officials also addressed some areas of collaboration including defence and security, energy, regional security, commerce and investment, statement from the UK government read.
Qatar and the UK inked an MoU to begin the Strategic Dialogue, a brand-new venue for expanding relations. The Strategic Dialogue’s progress will be reviewed by both ministries at least once a year, they both agreed.
Analysts believe that the relationship between Qatar and the UK has remained strategically significant, particularly in light of recent geopolitical sticking points.
“Qatar-UK relations are likely to continue to focus on issues of mutual importance to the two countries, and these include energy cooperation which has become increasingly significant over the past year given Britain’s leading role in rallying support for Ukraine,” Dr Kristian Ulrichsen, Fellow for the Middle East at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, told Doha News.
The officials also commended the ongoing cooperation on energy security and renewable energy under the first Qatar-UK Energy Dialogue, which was held in May 2022.
Prices for fuel have skyrocketed as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, prompting the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe to scramble for a deal securement with the world’s biggest LNG exporter, Qatar.
The development of the $10 billion new Golden Pass terminal in the US, which is scheduled to open in 2024 and is anticipated to export to the UK, is being carried out in tandem with the investment in South Hook LNG by state-owned QatarEnergy and ExxonMobil.
In recent years, the UK has relied more and more on LNG, despite previously vilifying gas producers and pushing for an urgent end to fossil fuel production.
The US and Qatar are both already major LNG suppliers to the UK. 51 of the 175 shipments made to the UK between January and September originated from Qatar and 81 from the US, S&P Global Platts data detailed.
This year, the UK has received significantly more international cargoes than usual because it serves as a “gas bridge” to Europe, which is rushing to replace Russian supplies but does not yet have sufficient import infrastructure, reports said.
“As Qatar’s expansion of the North Field nears completion of its first phase, a closely coordinated UK-Qatar dialogue can be instrumental to the next phase of British and European energy security as we get deeper into the 2020s,” Dr Ulrichsen told Doha News.
Both parties also stressed ongoing initiatives that are crucial for addressing both regional and global threats while reiterating the significance of the security and defence alliance.
The ministers acknowledged the promise of additional dialogue around prospective Typhoon partnerships and counterterrorism collaboration. Qatar and the UK further reaffirmed their commitment to working together to address common global issues, including Ukraine’s right to statehood.
The two also touched on negotiation and discussion with Iran as the sole means to achieving regional security and stability, which comes as Qatar and the UK attempt to mediate indirect talks between Iran and the United States over a possible prisoner exchange.
Iran has welcomed welcomed Qatari mediation efforts.
Both parties also spotlighted their continuous commitments to disadvantaged and vulnerable people, including refugees, IDPs, women, and children, in relation to humanitarian crises, political transitions, and disaster responses in Afghanistan, Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, and the Horn of Africa.
As for Palestine, the two ministers reaffirmed their support for a two-state solution, based on the 1967 lines and with Jerusalem as the shared capital, as the sole means of ensuring a just and long-lasting peace.
“Qatar and the UK strongly support the historic status quo governing holy sites in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including Jerusalem,” the UK government website read.
Qatar and the UK also vowed to continue working together to further international efforts at conflict resolution. The UK applauded Qatar for its outstanding mediating efforts in the Palestinian file, Iran, Chad, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Visa and trade
The UK is still committed to launching the new Electronic Travel Authorisation visa system in 2023, with Qatar being a pioneering member. This will ease travel for Qataris visiting the UK for business and tourism.
Meanwhile, with a total trade volume of over £12.1 billion over the previous year, Doha and London have a strong and thriving trade and investment relationship that supports economic growth, job creation, and innovation in both nations, the statement noted.
The Qatar-UK Strategic Investment Agreement was ratified during the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani’s visit to London in May last year, which further increased Qatari investment in the UK.
Both parties praised the advancements made under the Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO), especially the tighter collaboration between Qatar’s Investment Promotion Agency and the UK’s Department for Business and Trade.
Speaking on the latest developments, experts said the UK’s relations with Qatar under the new Rishi Sunak office seems to be engaging with a more positive momentum.
“The fact that British politics has, for the next 18 months at least, become more settled after the turmoil of the Boris Johnson and Liz Truss eras, means that there is at last an opportunity to try and make progress on issues such as negotiations for a free trade agreement,” Dr Ulrichsen told Doha News.