The College of Law at Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) continued its International Economic Law Seminar (IELS) Series with a colloquium exploring the relationship between international law, the law of Special Economic Zones (SEZs), and taxation policy in view of ongoing global tax reforms.

The online seminar took place on October 20, and engaged renowned academics, economists and taxation practitioners, along with a representative of the Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP). The College of Law was represented by Dean Susan L. Karamanian who set the context with introductory remarks, while Dr. George Dimitropoulos, Associate Professor, and Dr. Alexander Ezenagu, Assistant Professor, moderated the conversation.

Within the overall jurisdiction of state and international norms, SEZs typically introduce different laws and regulations, including more trade and investment friendly tax laws in comparison to a country’s domestic tax rate. The expert panel considered the implications of emerging international tax rules and a proposal for a potential global corporate minimum tax on multinationals, which could affect SEZs.

Sharing their international and comparative expertise on economic, investment, and tax law, the panel featured world-renowned academic Dr. Julien Chaisse, Professor, City University of Hong Kong, School of Law; Dr. Irma Mosquera Valderrama, Associate Professor, Leiden Law School, the Netherlands; and Dr. James J. Nedumpara, Professor and Head, Centre for Trade and Investment Law, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade. Sharing insights into Qatar’s current regulatory and policy regime was Mr. Mohamed El Metalsi, Tax Business Partner at QSTP, a technology development hub free zone that is part of Qatar Foundation.

Speaking after the seminar, Dr. Dimitropoulos said: “Special Economic Zones are being established at an unprecedented pace internationally. Qatar itself has four such zones in line with the goals of Qatar National Vision 2030 to encourage a diverse, industrialized, knowledge-based economy.

As regulatory attention turns to changes in the international taxation regime, we are actively engaged at the College of Law in helping Qatari stakeholders to interpret the impact and relevance of these reforms at a national level. We would like to express our thanks to our speakers for being part of our International Economic Law Seminar (IELS) Series. They ensured a lively discussion on one of the most debated contemporary subjects and their views encompassed a global perspective.”

Dr. Ezenagu noted that: “Since the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Pillar I and II reforms cover a limited number of companies through the in-scope carve-outs, countries still need to decide on the tax regimes for out-of-scope companies and may need further guidance from the keepers of the transnational legal order of international taxation. The job for the reform of the global tax system is not yet done.”

“As Qatar’s technology and innovation hub, QSTP works towards developing strong partnerships with local and international companies that are focused on applied research, tech development, innovation, and tech entrepreneurship. Once a company is accepted by and settled into QSTP, we conduct regular monitoring of their activities, headcount and financials for strategic and data-gathering purposes which enables us to have a robust tax compliance policy. We are glad to be part of this event as an awareness of taxation and the impact of taxes on Qatar’s business community is crucial to the progress of our private sector. Any new developments in taxation will be integrated in our compliance and monitoring framework,” said El Metalsi. The College of Law regularly holds events of relevance to Qatar and beyond, and which showcase its research interests and activities.