HE the Minister of Economy and Commerce Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohamed al-Thani has expressed his ministry’s readiness to join efforts and co-operate with the US-Qatar Business Council and US companies to provide assistance and support to firms seeking to benefit from Qatar’s position as a business hub.
He was addressing a business lunch organised by the US-Qatar Business Council on the sidelines of the US-Qatar Strategic Dialogue held in Washington DC recently.
The minister stressed that international trade and investment are a key part of the policy of economic diversification adopted by Qatar.
The US is Qatar’s sixth trading partner with a total of $6bn worth of traded goods, noting that 16% of Qatar’s imports came from the US in 2017, while the trade balance registered a surplus of $5bn in (US favour).
More than 500 joint Qatari-US firms and some 102 fully-owned US companies are operating in Qatar, including 20 companies that operate in the field of energy, while nearly 40 US companies are licensed by the Qatar Financial Centre.
Sheikh Ahmed highlighted that Qatar has been increasing its investments in the US over the years, creating thousands of jobs across America. These include partnerships with numerous American companies, such as ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and Raytheon.
In this context, he said more than 5,000 US nationals currently work in Qatar’s private sector, while a million other American jobs depend on business with Qatar.
Qatar has invested $35bn in the US, while the Qatar Investment Authority is planning to invest an additional $10bn in the near future.
He noted that Qatar Airways provided a $92bn boost to the US economy through the purchase of as many as 332 American aircraft, a deal which supports more than 527,000 jobs in the US.
He said the US-Qatari gathering comes at a time of global economic uncertainties and challenging circumstances for Qatar, following the imposition of the illegal blockade on the country.
The blockade is aimed at undermining Qatar’s position as an economically-independent and sovereign state, the minister said. But it has presented an opportunity for Qatar to make its economy more open to the world.
On the Qatari economy, he said the wise policies adopted by the state contributed to increased productivity across all sectors, which reflected positively on the national economy and led to positive growth rates over the past year, reflecting the Qatari economy’s resilience and ability to weather the illegal blockade.
In 2017, Qatar’s GDP Increased to $220bn compared with $218bn in 2016, the minister said, noting that the country’s annual real GDP growth rate at constant price reached 2% in 2017.
Quoting the latest report released by the World Bank, he said Qatar’s real GDP growth was expected to increase to 2.6% in 2018.
Qatar's foreign trade has also shown remarkable growth in 2017, the minister said, adding that the total foreign trade volume increased by 16% in 2017 to reach $103bn compared with $89bn in 2016.
Qatar’s total exports increased by 19% to reach $68bn in 2017, from $57bn in 2016, reflecting positively on the trade balance, which recorded a significant surplus at 40%; from $25bn in 2016 to $35bn in 2017.
“All these positive indicators demonstrate that Qatar has overcome the blockade and enhanced its economic competitiveness, which positions Qatar as a highly attractive destination for US investments,” the minister said.
He also congratulated Ambassador Anne Paterson on her appointment as chairman of the US-Qatar Business Council.