Qatar and the US bilateral trade and economic cooperation is to reach new heights with a significant jump in trade volumes in the coming years as both sides are working very closely and aggressively to expand and deepen the relationship in new areas, including more cooperation in SMEs sector.
The business cooperation in the small and medium-sized enterprises has great untapped potential as the current level of cooperation in this sector is very limited.
The expanded business cooperation between Qatar and the US is expected to further cement the political relations between the two countries, noted a senior official of the US-Qatar Business Council (USQBC) yesterday.
“We at USQBC are trying to develop a strong relationship that will make money, and that will be a very strong basis for bilateral relations when the political relationship is uncertain. A broader business relationship will make the political relationship more stable,” USQBC President Ambassador Anne Patterson told The Peninsula.
Speaking to this newspaper on the sidelines of a meeting, Patterson reiterated: “The main agenda of the meeting is to promote business between the US and Qatar. We are trying to expand cooperation beyond the defense and the energy sectors.”
The US-Qatar Business Council held a meeting yesterday with board members and prominent Qatari businessmen at Qatar Chamber (QC) headquarters. The Qatari side was presided over by Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim Al Thani, Chairman of QC, and the American side was chaired by Ambassador Patterson. The meeting was also attended by representatives from top US companies in Qatar, including ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, and others.
Commenting on the Qatari economy she noted that the economy is doing well. Citing IMF’s recent report, she also noted that Qatar had weathered the impact of the blockade very well. She said that Qatar has liberalized its economy dramatically, including the latest draft-law on foreign investment in all sectors and reforms in labor laws. All this will have a dramatic impact in terms of business and investments as the new laws will allow foreign ownership across all sectors. She also said that there is an enormous amount of defense cooperation as Qatar announced to invest $3bn for the expansion project of Al Udaid air base, which will accommodate more American and allied forces.
For instance, Qatar Petroleum announced some months ago to increase LNG production by 30 percent, and American companies are expected to be big beneficiaries of that.
“In addition, the US also intends to expand cooperation in finance and SMEs sector as small and medium-sized business will create more jobs.
Asked about the Qatari businessmen’s interests in forming joint ventures and seeking technology -transfer, Patterson said: “There is a whole range of such companies. But we need to convince more American companies to invest here and to team up with local entrepreneurs to bring technology to Qatar.”
The Qatar-US bilateral trade volume in goods for the full year in 2017 stood at $4.31bn (QR15.69bn) against $6.08bn (QR22.14bn) in the previous year.
The bilateral trade between the two countries witnessed a double-digit growth (year-on-year) in the first quarter of this year (Q1, 2018) compared to the corresponding period last year.
The combined value of goods exchanged between the two countries reached at QR4.30bn ($1.18bn) in Q1, 2018, registering a sharp jump of nearly 23 percent compared to QR3.49bn ($961m) in the first three months of the previous year (2017).