Katie Allen – The Guardian News
Monday 27 March 2017 18.10 BST Last modified on Monday 27 March 2017 21.07 BST
Qatari investors are unperturbed by Britain’s departure from EU and looking to build on significant investments
Theresa May’s ambitions to create a "global Britain" after Brexit have been boosted by Qatar’s announcement that it expects to invest £5bn in the UK over the next five years.
On Monday, two days before the planned triggering of article 50, Qatari investors at a London conference suggested they were unperturbed by the prospect of Britain’s departure from the EU and were looking for further opportunities to build on already significant investments in the UK that include the Olympic Village in east London, the Shard building, Harrods department store and a stake in Sainsbury’s.
The pound’s weakness since last June’s referendum has made UK assets, such as property and stocks, more attractive to foreign investors. But economists warn that foreign direct investment to the UK will wane in the long term if the country adopts unfavorable trade deals after leaving the EU or if Brexit dents London’s status as a financial hub.
However, Qatar’s plans will bring some relief to the government as it continues to make the case that Britain’s economy can flourish outside the EU. The Qatari prime minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani, said in a statement released during the Qatar-UK trade and investment conference:"Over the next three to five years Qatar will invest £5bn in the UK economy through various investment funds and relevant parties in Qatar.
“Our investments in the UK will focus on energy, infrastructure, real estate, services and other sectors".
Speaking at the event, the chief executive of Qatar Petroleum said his company felt comfortable with its investments in Britain. "What happens with the economy of the UK long term with Brexit and so on really will not be a game changer for us", said Saad Sherida al-Kaabi in comments reported by Reuters.
Qatar’s finance minister, Ali Shareef al-Emadi, said he was confident the UK would have a “good future” outside the EU.
He told the BBC:"Currently the UK is our first investment destination and it is the largest investment destination for Qatari investors, both public and private. We have more than £35bn to £40bn of investments already in the UK. We’re announcing an additional £5bn of investment in the next three to five years".
"The way we look at our investment in any market, and especially in the UK, it is a very long-term investment, so we don’t look at any cycles up or down. So if you are talking about Brexit, I can go back to the financial crisis and tell you the same stories".