Doha – MENA Herald: The outlook for the global economy in 2016 is very mixed, according to leading experts meeting in Doha today, with positive projections for the U.S. economy being offset by more troubling economic forecasts for other parts of the world.

While economists are forecasting approximately 3.0 percent growth in global real GDP in 2016, the benefits will not be felt equally, with Brazil, Canada, Japan, and Russia all facing downward revisions, and significant concerns emerging about the health of the Chinese economy.

For the GCC states, positive growth projections are being clouded by the on-going plunge of the oil market, with prices falling to a seven-year low in December 2015, following OPEC’s decision not to constrain production despite global oversupply.

More than 600 finance and banking executives are taking part in The Euromoney Qatar Conference 2015 in Doha this week, as banks and leading institutions review how to respond to these divergent trends.

Senior Qatari leaders spoke on the first day about the timely initiatives being undertaken by Qatar. The nation has benefited from its on-going efforts to support the banking sector, diversify the economy, and invest in long-term sustainable infrastructure, making the nation one of the most stable in the world.

His Excellency Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, Prime Minister, State of Qatar, delivered an official address at the Conference. He discussed Qatar’s success in creating infrastructure assets that enable sustainable growth, and called for the adoption of measures to support international finance, trade and global growth.   

His Excellency Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, said: “The State of Qatar continues to monitor the developments in the world economy. With the fluctuations in the oil price, it is incumbent upon us to review policies and work to minimise negative impact. However, we have been successful in pursuing a strategy of diversification and encouraging investment, which will ensure that non-oil sector growth will continue for Qatar in the coming period.”

His Excellency Mr Ali Shareef Al Emadi, Minister of Finance, State of Qatar, also delivered an official keynote address during the opening session.

“In spite of global pressures, Qatar will achieve good financial growth in the next phase. This is thanks to the on-going implementation of major projects in the field of health, education, infrastructure and in preparation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The total value of major projects in development in Qatar is QR261 billion, not including projects for the oil and gas and private sectors,” said His Excellency Mr Ali Shareef Al Emadi

The strong focus on stability and security was stressed by other Qatari leaders on the first day. H.E. Dr Hessa Al-Jaber, Minister of Information and Communications Technology, State of Qatar, highlighted the coordinated strategy Qatar is undertaking to provide robust technological foundations, and outlined the measures being taken to ensure that ICT plays a key role in the development of Qatar’s knowledge-based economy.

H.E. Dr Hessa Al-Jaber said: “We are studying the intersections between technology and industry to identify where the greatest opportunities for digital transformation lie. This includes looking at disruptive innovations that could transform whole sectors, including the financial sector. Qatar is reviewing the potential of mobile payment capabilities, online banking services and crowd-funding models to support economic growth.”

Senior representatives of Qatar’s financial sector Yousuf Mohamed Al-Jaida, Chief Executive Officer, Qatar Financial Centre and Dr R Seetharaman, Chief Executive Officer, Doha Bank, also provided insight into strategies being undertaken by individual institutions.  

Speaking on some of the global challenges constraining growth, Dimitris Tsitsiragos, Vice President of International Finance Corporation, looked at the requirements for infrastructure development.

“With some 1.2 billion people in the world lacking access to stable power, and two billion people expected to move to urban areas in the next 25 years, shortfalls in infrastructure is likely to directly impact economic growth,” said Tsitsiragos.

In the MENA region, there is an estimated 20 percent shortfall in power generation capacity and parallel shortfalls in water, hospitals, schools and housing – issues that are likely to be exacerbated by the increased flow of migrants and internally-displaced people. Tsitsiragos highlighted the key role of the private sector, and in public-private partnership in ensuring these needs are met now and in the future.