US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker interacting with AmCham Qatar Chairman Robert A Hager yesterday. PICTURE: Jayaram
By Salman Siddiqui/Staff Reporter
The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) has a ‘high priority’ to make further investments in the United States, US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said yesterday.
She was addressing a special edition of the Distinguished Speaker Series organised by the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar (AmCham Qatar) in partnership with the National US-Arab Chamber of Commerce (NUSACC). The high ranking US official said that her country offered a great opportunity for investors from all over the world, including Qatar.
Pritzker talked about her meeting with QIA officials and said she encouraged Qatar’s business leaders to take a closer look at the US for foreign direct investment.
The US Secretary of Commerce said that growth in the US might not be as great as other places in the world, but it was reliable because of the country’s strong rule of law, intellectual property protection, commitment to research and development, stable financial system and its ‘phenomenal’ creative human resource.
When asked whether the US could play any role in bringing down the recent tensions between Gulf countries, Pritzker said that improving business and trade relations in the region could hold the key.
“One of the best things we can do is to do what we are (already) doing, which is to bring in trade missions....because business can be a bridge to help…bring prosperity and developments for economies and also can encourage a greater security environment.
“So, I think there’s a lot that we can do, and we are doing it with the presence of our foreign demarche services in the various countries, and the way they work with our business communities, and the local business communities and local governments,” she said.
Pritzker pointed out that cyber security was a serious challenge and threat to both businesses and governments alike. Although she said that she was not familiar with Qatar’s cyber security laws, she added that in the US, the government worked with the industry to build a cyber security framework.
The US official said that she was glad to bring 21 US firms to Qatar, where many US companies already do business in support of Qatar’s National Vision 2030.
She highlighted growing commercial ties between Qatar and the US, and American efforts to boost exports to the region in the infrastructure sector, including project management and engineering; construction, architecture and design; and renewable energy and environmental technologies.
The US posted a trade surplus with Qatar of $2.6bn from January-August 2013. US exports to Qatar totaled $4.95bn throughout 2013, establishing a new record and underscoring the growing importance of the Gulf as an American export market.
Since the launch of the US National Export Initiative in 2010, exports to Qatar have increased by 56%.
“I am so pleased to be joined on this trade mission by 21 US firms that are eager to partner with government and industry in Qatar,” she said. “The US and our businesses truly value our strong commercial and economic ties with the Gulf region, and recognise that working together is a win-win.
“American companies have the expertise to help Qatar construct world-class infrastructure, and when US firms sell their goods and services to new markets, the American economy stands to gain. I hope this trade mission will lead to many more mutually-beneficial relationships between our two nations.”
AmCham Qatar chairman Robert A Hager extended his deepest gratitude to Secretary Pritzker for prioritising Qatar and the Gulf, and taking the time to connect with the vibrant and growing contingent of American businesses operating here.
The US Secretary of Commerce was on the third leg of her Middle East tour. She held talks with business leaders in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Riyadh before arriving in Doha on Wednesday, during which the Deputy Chief of Mission at the US embassy in Qatar Ian McCary also hosted a reception for her.
Later yesterday, the US firms that came along with the US Secretary also had a business lunch with members of the Qatar Businessmen Association. She and her trade mission members also held meetings at Qatar’s Ministry of Business and Trade. She was expected to wrap up her visit to Qatar late last night.