US firms are keen on exploring investment opportunities in Qatar's pharmaceutical, agriculture, and services sectors, according to an official of the Washington-based US Qatar Business Council.
Also, the council’s partnership with the Qatar Financial Centre and ongoing discussions for a headquarters at the QFC is “critical in engaging US companies in the Qatari market,” said Max McGee, associate director, Business Engagements, at the US Qatar Business Council.
“Right now, there is a major need for pharmaceuticals. We have heard from several Qatari companies that they are in need of medical supplies, drugs, and are interested in manufacturing those drugs in Qatar,” McGee told Gulf Times.
He added: "Qatar recently announced it would open nearly 40 new farms to meet more of its food needs domestically. Qatar Development Bank plays a key role in financing farms and agriculture projects."
“Generally speaking as well, with the economy shifting away from hydrocarbons and diversification underway, there is a major need for service providers. Manateq’s economic zones coming online provide a great opportunity for manufacturing companies, thus we will explore this sector as well.”
On having an office at the QFC, McGee said the US Qatar Business Council “deeply values” its relationship with the centre because it provides them key access to QFC officials “and gives a certain level of trust as we work with US companies.”
“The QFC is a one-stop-shop and perfect for many US companies seeking to open offices in Qatar…it is also critical that more American companies are aware of QFC, which is part of our partnership because it is a game changer for doing business in the region,” he pointed out.
Speaking to Doha-based reporters recently, QFC CEO Yousuf Mohamed al-Jaida spoke about the centre’s participation in Qatar’s recent economic roadshow in several US cities.
“Our delegation was there for purely marketing purposes. We are talking to the US Qatar Business Council to set up an office in the QFC for us to be able to reach out to US companies. We have hosted several delegations from the US. There are many opportunities for US firms; we intend to target through Qatari-US Business Council,” al-Jaida said.
Asked about the impact of having an office in Qatar in terms of opening more opportunities for US firms in the Qatari market, McGee said: “We very much hope to have an office established within a year from now, but many factors are at play. It is critical that we are able to quickly serve our Qatari member companies, and having a presence there can increase the level of service we provide. We currently have quite a small staff, but if we are able to bring on more Qatari member companies, we would have to have an office in Qatar.
“The more Qatari members we induct, the more there is a need for an office. To work in the same time zone, on the ground, would allow us to work faster and more efficiently with our Qatari partners. It would ease communications and speed up the process of partner identification and research, creating a higher level of service all around.”
McGee said the US Qatar Business Council was founded under the patronage of His Highness the Father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani in 1996 by a group of American companies that first invested in the Qatari economy. The council existed as a forum of discussion for US companies operating there, but has since grown substantially in the role it provides.
“Our bread and butter are our consulting services, which are available to all member companies, both Qatari and American. We offer matchmaking services, research services, consulting, and conduct trade missions in the US and Qatar. We are the gateway for business between the US and Qatar,” he said.
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