On Monday, September 14, 2020 the US-Qatar Business Council (USQBC) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce hosted their 3rd Annual Business Forum virtually on the sidelines of the US-Qatar Strategic Dialogue. The Strategic Dialogue, which was first initiated in 2018, is an important avenue for sustained engagement by both governments for discussions around key issues in the overall bilateral relationship, of which trade and investment are a vital part. This year’s Strategic Dialogue was held September 14-15, 2020. The 3rd Annual Business Forum allowed for an opportunity for the US business community to participate in and help inform these discussions.
Officials from both the Qatari and US governments participated in the forum including guests of honor, HE Mr. Ali bin Ahmed Al-Kuwari, Minister of Commerce and Industry of the State of Qatar, and the Honorable Wilbur Ross, US Secretary of Commerce.
Also providing remarks during the event were the following:
The event was moderated by Mr. Mohammed Barakat, Managing Director of USQBC, and several member companies participated in the Q&A discussion including:
In the opening session of the US-Qatar Strategic Dialogue, US and Qatari officials announced important upcoming initiatives that were also discussed during 3rd Annual Business Forum. These included an announcement of a major US-Qatar investment forum and a roadshow of Qatari companies to several US cities, both to take place in 2021. These will be important ways to actively grow and strengthen the US-Qatar economic relationship and explore new investment opportunities and partnerships between American and Qatari companies. Also noted during the forum was this week’s signing of an agreement between Tysons Food and Widam Food to explore and engage in new collaboration opportunities.
During the 3rd Annual Business Forum, the growing economic ties between the US and Qatar were especially highlighted with the total economic partnership between the two countries already exceeding $200 billion. The US is Qatar’s largest foreign direct investor with a total of $110.6 billion in FDI, and the US is the largest single source of exports to Qatar at $6.5 billion in 2019. In the past five years, Qatar has imported over $23 billion from the US, and over 850 US companies now operate in Qatar in a variety of key industries. In 2019, there was over $9.4 billion in trade between the two countries, a growth of over 100% since 2017. At the same time, Qatar is also strengthening its foothold in the US economy having already invested over $30 billion in the US. with planned investments exceeding $45 billion in total. Despite issues arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, both Qatar and the US. remain committed to strengthening investment opportunities and growing trade between the two countries.
Qatari Minister of Commerce and Industry His Excellency Ali bin Ahmed Al-Kuwari commented on Qatar’s economic growth and the importance of the US-Qatar economic relationship. Qatar has achieved a lot in 2020 despite COVID-19, providing assistance to the international community in the wake of the pandemic and accelerating improvements to the business environment. Qatar is also expanding projects in areas such as infrastructure, oil and gas, and logistics, and providing further incentives for US companies to enter the market, including 100% percent ownership of foreign investment and a recently passed Private-Public-Partnership (PPP) law. Although commercial ties are already strong between the US and Qatar, there remains so many new opportunities that can grow this relationship even further.
During Secretary Ross’ remarks, he expressed optimism that the bilateral trade relationship will flourish in the coming months as the global economy recovers post-COVID. He said the economic relationship remains an important component of engagement between the US and Qatar, and he encouraged companies to continue looking to Qatar for business. Opportunities around the LNG sector and World Cup 2022 are good opportunities for American companies to provide important, high-tech services.
President of USQBC, Ambassador Anne Patterson applauded the historical partnership between the US and Qatar and the two countries’ efforts to continue bolstering ties and supporting the thriving commercial relationship. She remarked on the many new changes the Qatari government has made to facilitate US investment and how Qatar’s appetite for specialized and sophisticated technology of American companies will present many attractive business opportunities going forward.
U.S. Chamber CEO Tom Donohue commended the Qatari government on recent reforms to help non-oil business grow, such as the implementation of world-class free zones and the new Public-Private Partnership law. These initiatives underline the government’s commitment to improving the business environment and have helped attract new US companies to Qatar.
The US-Qatar Business Council and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will be actively engaged in the upcoming forums and roadshows between the US and Qatar. Please reach out to Amanda Michetti at firstname.lastname@example.org or Liz Clark at email@example.com to learn more.