Unprecedented welcome. The Government, the King and the main institutions of the State spare no entertainment for the emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who is leading a two-day state visit that ends today. Preferencial treatment. Congressional and Senate Medals of Honor; golden key of the city of Madrid; the granting of the necklace of the Order of Isabella the Catholic… A “timely and necessary” visit, admit government sources, alluding to the scenario of energy crisis that Europe is experiencing derived from the invasion of Ukraine.

The staging brims with grandiloquence and pomposity, framing a profound economic background: Spain’s short-term objective is to try to guarantee the gas supply it considers necessary, and Qatar plays a key role there. Because our country adds to the generalized energy crisis due to the war in Ukraine the diplomatic crisis with Algeria, our main supplier of gas, after the shift made by the Government on Western Sahara. And with Italy already moving to become the main client of Algerian gas.

The president of Algeria, Abdelmayid Tebune, accused Sánchez of breaching international law by accepting the Moroccan autonomy plan for Western Sahara. “What Spain has done is unacceptable, ethically and historically,” he said. He also did not help that the Spanish Government assured that he had informed them of his turn with the Sahara and Algerian diplomatic sources denied it.

Although from the Government they say that the contracts with Algeria or their supply are not in danger, they do seek to shield the purchase of Qatari gas, because as it is recognized, there are already European and non-European countries that are approaching this State in a “more or less less aggressive. Two months ago, for example, Germany and Qatar agreed to form a long-term energy partnership in a pact reached during a visit by German Economy Minister Robert Habeck.

Spain wants to make a move now. For this reason, the emir’s state visit will serve to elevate relations between the two countries to a “strategic association” and in this way, ensure a boost to economic relations.

Because Qatar is not only the world’s leading exporter of liquefied natural gas, according to Bloomberg data for the month of April – it currently has an annual gas production capacity of 77 million net tons, which it plans to increase to 110 million in 2024-, but it is the third country in the world with the largest natural gas reserves after Russia and Iran.

In 2020, 8.8% of the liquefied gas purchased by Spain came from Qatar, only behind Nigeria (12%) and Algeria (29%). Until 2019, this country was the second supplier.

Although the Government presumes that imports are highly diversified, in a context of energy crisis and need for suppliers, taking the lead seems vital. Hence, the purpose is to strengthen the bilateral relationship, cooperation and understanding.

Because in his purpose of prioritizing the economic agenda, Pedro Sánchez is immersed in a job of attracting investments. And the emir is, without a doubt, a great investor. It should be remembered that his QIA sovereign fund has assets worth 450,000 million euros.

Attracting Qatari money towards Spanish projects linked to European Next Generation funds is another of the objectives of this State visit for the Government. That Qatari money reaches Spain as an important source of investment. One of the most important agreements that is going to be sealed today between the two countries is between the QIA sovereign wealth fund and Cofides, a public-private partnership that manages State funds, to study, identify and propose investments within the framework of the Recovery Plan. . Although the Government avoids detailing the projects, they will be framed in the field of ecological transition, digital transition, hydrogen storage, industrial autonomy… The Government opens the door to all options: investment only in Qatar, hand in hand with Cofides, alliance with Spanish companies… But that they invest, is the purpose that is pursued.

“There are possibilities that the Qatari flows will arrive in the coming years,” they believe in the Executive. They consider in the Government that their “road map” coincides with Qatar’s aspirations to expand and diversify its investments and that there is room for Spain to be one of the countries that concentrates that investment.

In addition to this agreement between the sovereign wealth fund and Cofides, 12 agreements will be signed, including eight bilateral memorandums of understanding in different fields. One of them will be between the economic departments to deepen financial and investment relations.

And the issue of human rights in Qatar? The Government states that it is a matter discussed and that it will be reflected in the joint declaration that both countries sign today.

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