‘Siege countries lost credibility’
June 04 2018 12:12 AM
US-Qatar Business Council (USQBC) president ambassador Anne Patterson
US-Qatar Business Council (USQBC) president ambassador Anne Patterson

QNA Doha

The blockading countries have lost their credibility before the American business community, US-Qatar Business Council (USQBC) president ambassador Anne Patterson has said.

While reaffirming that the Qatar-US ties were strategic, as reflected in investments and strong trade exchange, she said in an interview with Lusail newspaper that Qatar carried out major economic reforms over the past two years that would encourage the US business community to enter the Qatari market.

Ambassador Patterson stressed that the council has played a role in the Gulf crisis in terms of conveying the truth about the claims of siege countries, adding that these countries have lost their credibility before the US business community. She also noted that the USQBC does not play a political role but rather strengthens economic ties that last for decades.

She said the council is currently working with several entities, such as the Ministry of Economy and Commerce (MEC), Qatar Chamber (QC) and the Qatari Businessmen Association (QBA), to issue a business guide that would explain how to operate in Qatar, investment laws, laws of companies and institutions providing services, investment stimulation laws, Qatar Financial Centre laws, private and free zones, logistics zones and other laws that US investors need to know about to enter the Qatari market.

On economic reforms, the council president said one of the most important reforms that Qatar has recently undertaken is raising the percentage of ownership to 100% for foreign investors. She added that investors can use Doha as a regional hub for their business.

Ambassador Patterson also highlighted the labour law reforms, saying that there is no risk for workers and noting that the changes that have occurred are substantial and there are ongoing discussions for further reforms in different areas.

As for the outcome of the Qatari economic roadshow held in a number of US cities in April, she said the real change in economic ties between the two countries will take time. However, she added that there were direct results of the roadshow through the agreements that were signed as well as the keenness of US firms to enter the Qatari market.

The USQBC president stressed the possibility of implementing a US economic roadshow in Qatar, adding that the council aims to participate in several international events in Qatar such as the Doha Forum, Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference (Dimdex) and economic forums in Qatar.

Ambassador Patterson added that the first round of the economic roadshow kicked off economic and investment relations, expecting the second round in late September or November to further achieve its objectives.

The first round of the economic roadshow launched in the US in April, with the MEC organising four economic forums between Qatar and the United States in Miami, Washington DC, Charleston and Raleigh in co-operation with QC, the US Chamber of Commerce, QBA, USQBC and a number of official entities in the US.

The economic roadshow in the four American cities featured economic forums and bilateral meetings between the two countries, bilateral meetings between Qatari businessmen and their American counterparts, exhibitions in conjunction with the economic roadshow initiative, and roundtables in real estate investment, hospitality, tourism, technology, health and medicine, banking, legal practice, public-private partnerships and infrastructure projects.

Qatar and the US have strong economic and trade relations, which reflect positively on the trade volume between the two countries, amounting to nearly QR21bn in 2017. The US is one of the largest trading partners of Qatar.

On his part, USQBC managing director Mohamed Barakat said the historical relations between Qatar and US have proved their strength in the current times. He added that the council aims to clarify the image related to the trade field and business relations between the two countries.

Barakat said the economic and law reforms that have taken place in Qatar are among of the best in the region, representing an attractive target for foreign companies. This helps in terms of the presence of companies within the local domain, enhances encouragement for involving the Qatari private sector and partnerships that are important for encouraging production and investment in Qatar, he added.

On the results of the economic tour, Barakat said some of the investment results will be instant due to the needs of the market while other results will be seen in the long run, which are related to logistical factors and establishing businesses. He referred to the stability and robustness of Qatar's economy in light of the siege and the economic growth stated by international institutions, with all these are factors contributing to interest of foreign investment in Qatar.

Also, Qatar remained committed to providing gas to the siege countries despite its legal right to stop supplying liquefied natural gas to the UAE, making it a trustworthy economic partner, Barakat said.

He said the economic changes that have taken place in the past two years contributed to making the US business community look for alternative regional opportunities and for a country that remains capable to spend on infrastructure. Hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup has also contributed to raising awareness about Qatar, he added.

Barakat said the first economic tour created awareness for both sides and the agreements that were signed during the tour were among the instant results of the initiative. The tour also revealed the strength of Qatar's private sector.

He affirmed that Doha is able to become the regional centre for US companies to serve the neighbouring countries, especially that relations between Qatar and these countries are strong, in addition to the presence of Qatar Airways' network.

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