Qatar has weathered the blockade and enhanced its economic competitiveness, thus positioning it as a "highly attractive" destination for the US investments, HE the Minister of Economy and Commerce Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohamed al-Thani said.
The US, which is at present Doha's sixth largest trading partner, has the potential to become Qatar's top trading partner due to the umpteen opportunities for investments, especially in the private sector, he told a reception held by the US Chamber of Commerce for Qatar's delegation participating in the Qatari-US strategic dialogue in Washington.
The session brought together HE Ali Sherif al-Emadi, Minister of Finance; Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohamed bin Saud al-Thani, chief executive of Qatar Investment Authority, which pledged to invest $35bn in 2015-20 and an additional $10bn for infrastructure sector in the US.
There were also representatives of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Finance, Economy and Commerce, Transport and Communications, Administrative Development and Labour and Social Affairs.
Confident that the US would tap the opportunities offered by Qatar to build on the historic bilateral relations, Sheikh Ahmed said Doha has sought to issue new laws and introduce key amendments to several existing legislation in order to attract and promote local and foreign investments.
Highlighting that the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, signed in 2004, bolstered these ties; he said the US-Qatari strategic dialogue represents a key step towards building on these achievements and that the private sector in both countries is well positioned to tap a multitude of existing investment opportunities.
As much as 16% of Qatar’s imports came from the US in 2017 with the trade balance registering a surplus of $5bn in favour of the US, the commerce minister said, adding some 102 fully-owned US entities and 505 Qatari-US joint ventures are at present operating in Doha. As many as 40 US firms are licensed under the umbrella of the Qatar Financial Centre.
Qatar has not only made amendments to its law on investment zones, which provides further incentives to investors seeking to set up businesses in Qatar, but also drafting a new law that ensures incentives, including tax exemptions, for new firms to enhance foreign investments.
Stressing that the private sector in both countries is well positioned to tap a multitude of existing investment opportunities, Sheikh Ahmed said these include infrastructure projects related to the 2022 World Cup, investments in Qatar’s tourism sector ahead of state plans to attract 5.6mn visitors annually by 2023, in addition to large scale projects in food security, education and health services.
He highlighted that Qatar is currently working on the development of key legislation, especially relating to a public-private partnerships, which could boost the country's business environment.
Quoting the World Bank report that projected Qatar’s real GDP growth at 2.6% this year, Sheikh Ahmed said Qatar has managed to weather the challenges of the blockade and maintain normal activity across all economic sectors.
"The siege presented Qatar an opportunity to fast track the implementation of measures aimed at achieving self-sufficiency across vital sectors, in partnership with the private sector," he said, implying more business potential for Qatar and US Inc. to work together.