H.E. Mr. Sultan Bin Rashid Al Khater, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry; Mr. Ian Steff, Assistant Secretary for Global Markets and Director General of the United States and Foreign Commercial Service; and Mr. Peter Haas, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs, co-chaired a session on commercial cooperation on Tuesday, September 15, 2020. The session was organised within the framework of the third Qatar-US strategic dialogue through video conferencing technology.
A number of diplomats, ambassadors, senior officials and representatives of various governmental bodies and agencies from both countries participated in the session.
In his remarks, H.E. said the third U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue was being held at a time of considerable global economic uncertainty and challenging trade dynamics.
The events of recent months following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic have been unprecedented, and serve to remind all parties of the importance of global commercial relationships and supply chains, H.E explained.
H.E. added that Qatar’s commercial relationship with the US serves as a strong foundation for bilateral ties, and by all measures is vital and getting stronger.
H.E. said he looked forward to organising the second round of the Economic Roadshow in the US, noting that the roadshow was to be held this year, but was postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
H.E. explained that Qatari-U.S. trade relations have gained considerable momentum since the signing of the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) in 2004, with total trade now eight times more than it was 16 years ago, and twice the value of 2017.
Touching on bilateral investments, H.E. said US firms are increasingly active in Doha, noting that American companies have been operating in Qatar for decades, and have been critical partners in the nation’s development.
H.E. explained that the Strategic Dialogue presented an opportunity to work together with the US to find new ways to strengthen bilateral ties, and explore new mechanisms of cooperation to bolster economic and trade relations, despite the challenges brought on by the coronavirus crisis.
Touching on the reforms that Qatar has undertaken in recent years to bolster its investment environment, H.E. said the country has been able to rapidly diversify local and global supply chains while stepping up efforts to improve its logistics networks to become one of the most advanced digital and logistical systems worldwide, connecting companies to global supply chains through advanced communications and transportation infrastructure.
H.E. added that Qatar has managed to maintain a resilient, diversified and globally connected economy, offering US investors key incentives to tap the Qatari market.
Touching on Qatar’s legislative environment, H.E. said the government has been keen on developing laws and regulations that incentivise investments. These include the law regulating the investment of non-Qatari capital in economic activity, which allows foreign investors up to 100% ownership in various sectors and economic activities, in addition to many other competitive advantages such as the freedom to transfer profits in any convertible currency.
H.E. added that Qatar has established an Investment Promotion Agency to streamline procedures and provide support to foreign investors, including US companies that may benefit from various investment opportunities in Qatar.
in line with its long-term economic diversification strategy, H.E. said that Qatar sought to bolster its private sector. In this context, a law was issued regulating the partnership between private and public sectors. H.E. noted that the law empowers the private sector to tap key opportunities fueled by Qatar’s growth and development.
H.E. added that foreign investors may tap infrastructure projects related to the FIFA 2022 World Cup, and opportunities in a thriving industrial sector that witnessed an increase in the number of operating factories to 915 as of this month (September).
H.E. said Qatar is keen to strengthen cooperation with US to pursue the development of an ecosystem that reflects positively on both countries, including the development of necessary frameworks to protect intellectual property and provide guarantees for investors.
H.E. added that Qatar was also seeking to explore new investment opportunities that benefit the economies of both countries, including potential investments in US infrastructure projects.
In his closing remarks, H.E. said Qatar and the US have achieved a great deal since the launch of the Strategic Dialogue three years ago, adding that Qatar looks forward to capitalising on these special ties to explore the full spectrum of available business and investment opportunities, and to enhance its cooperation with the US across an array of sectors, despite the economic challenges that the world is currently facing.
H.E. added that the US and Qatar’s commitment to working closely together would lead to the announcement of the coming Economic Roadshow and the signing of the announcement of intent to host an investment forum in 2021.
H.E. lauded the agreement signed between Widam Food Company and Tyson Fresh Meats for supplying protein in the global food and agribusiness sector, saying it represents an important step and provides an example of the rewarding cooperation between Qatar and US.
H.E. thanked participants from both sides for the well-prepared agenda and voiced hope that the meeting will contribute to further enhancing the business and economic relationship between the two countries
The session featured a number of discussion panels that touched on Qatari investments in the US, investment opportunities in Qatar, the economic inclusion of women, and the incentives that Qatar Free Zones offer to investors.