*Qatar has overcome the blockade by enhancing its economic competitiveness
*Qatar Airways alone provided a $92bn boost to the US economy
*Qatar’s real GDP growth is expected to increase to 2.8% in 2018, the highest among GCC countries
Qatar is keen on bolstering bilateral ties with the US across all fields, particularly on the economic and investment levels, HE the Minister of Economy and Commerce Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohamed al-Thani has said.
He was speaking on Thursday at a reception organised by the US-Qatar Business Council on the sidelines of the SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington. The ceremony was attended by a number of senior officials and businessmen from both countries and representatives of civil society in the US.
“International trade and investment form a key part of Qatar’s future growth and diversification, and the US is one of Qatar’s most valued and largest global partners,” Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim said, according to a statement issued Friday by the Ministry of Economy and Commerce.
He said $24bn worth of goods were traded in the last five years, noting that 84% of the trade balance is in favour of the US, the equivalent of $20bn while 16.3% of Qatar’s imports came from the US in 2017.
Meanwhile, more than 650 American companies are established in Qatar, including 117 companies 100% owned by US citizens, and another 30 US companies operate under the Qatar Financial Centre. Out of nearly 15,000 American citizens who live in Qatar, 5,000 highly skilled individuals are currently working in the private sector.
“Qatar has been increasing its investments in the US for many years, creating thousands of jobs across America. These include partnerships with numerous American companies, such as ExxonMobil, Boeing, ConocoPhillips and Raytheon.
“Qatar Airways alone provided a $92bn boost to the US economy through the purchase of 332 American aircraft, a deal that supports more than 527,000 jobs.”
The Minister of Economy and Commerce pointed out that $146bn worth of exports and orders to Qatar have generated 1mn American jobs that depend on doing business with Qatar.
Qatar Investment Authority has also pledged to invest $45bn for the period from 2015 to 2020. Of that, $10bn will be channelled into the infrastructure sector, Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim said, noting that these investments represent 23% of Qatar’s GDP.
In the oil and gas sector, Qatar Petroleum has also invested $10bn in an LNG plant in Texas, which will contribute to generating 45,000 jobs.
Highlighting investments by the private sector, the Minister of Economy and Commerce said private companies have heavily invested in the US economy, with more than $5bn in the fields of technology, hospitality, real estate and household retail, which contributed to bolstering the US economy.
“Qatar spent $200mn on medical and healthcare for its citizens in 2017, while more 1,200 Qatari students are studying at universities in the US,” he said.
Touching on the measures that Qatar undertook to counter the illegal blockade imposed on the country since June 5, 2017 with the aim of undermining Qatar’s position as an economically independent and sovereign state, Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim said the country has emerged stronger and more independent than ever before.
“The illegal blockade has presented an opportunity for Qatar to make its economy more accessible to the world and bolster its trade relations, particularly with the US.
“Qatar has successfully established direct commercial routes with a number of strategic hubs around the world, diverting trade to its major trading partners.
“Qatar is utilising its available world-class facilities and hi-tech logistics to mobilise its regional agreements with Kuwait, Iraq, Oman, Turkey, Pakistan, India, Azerbaijan and Central Asia.
“Through these agreements, Qatar aims to expand its trade activities by establishing a marine fleet that connects Qatar with its major trading partners in the world, targeting a market of 400mn population in its first stage,” he said.
The minister explained that the wise policies adopted by Qatar, which stimulated all sectors of the economy to achieve increased productivity, have reflected positively on the national economy.
“Qatar’s economy continued its positive performance during the past year, confirming that the country was unaffected by the blockade.
“In 2017, Qatar’s total GDP Increased to $220bn, compared with $218bn in 2016. The annual real growth rate at constant price reached around 2% in 2017, which was better than expected.
“Several international reports have highlighted the remarkable performance of the Qatari economy.”
Quoting the latest report released by the World Bank, Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim reiterated that Qatar’s real GDP growth is expected to increase to 2.8% in 2018, the highest among GCC countries.
Qatar’s foreign trade has also shown remarkable growth, increasing by 16% to reach $103bn in 2017, compared with $89bn in 2016.
Qatar’s total exports also increased by 19% to reach $68bn in 2017, up from $57bn in 2016, contributing to a total trade surplus that increased by 40% from $25bn in 2016 to $35bn in 2017.
The minister highlighted Qatar’s advanced ranking on the latest Global Competitiveness Index, noting that the country ranks first for its stable inflation rates while leading the Arab world and ranking in 20th place globally on the macroeconomic environment index. Globally, Qatar also ranks third for government procurement of advanced technology, fifth for venture capital availability and fifth for the availability of scientists and engineers.
“Qatar also ranks in advanced positions on the subfactors of the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2018 - third for the labour force, third for efficiency of government decisions, fourth for transparency, fifth for economic performance and entrepreneurship, seventh for public-private partnerships, eighth for education, tenth for government efficiency and thirteenth for business efficiency.
“All these positive indicators, show that Qatar has overcome the blockade by enhancing its economic competitiveness,” he asserted.
Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim also pointed out that Qatari-US relations extend beyond trade and investment, noting that Qatari-US co-operation is aimed at helping people of both nations overcome challenges and capitalise on opportunities.
“Qatar donated $100mn to help victims of Hurricane Katrina, which contributed in community development, building houses and hospitals. Qatar also provided $30mn in aid after Hurricane Harvey.
“Qatar is committed to the vital strategic economic partnership with the US to the benefit of a prosperous Qatar and the US,” he added.
The SelectUSA Investment Summit is a leading event aimed at promoting foreign direct investments in the US with the participation of senior government officials, CEOs, private sector representatives and entrepreneurs. Every edition of the summit focuses on a specific theme related to the US investment environment, overall industry trends and new opportunities. This year’s edition features a number of key topics, including promoting global economic prosperity, investments in energy, innovation and technology, workforce development and rebuilding the U.S infrastructure.
SelectUSA Investment Summit is expected to bring together more 3,200 participants, representing 64 international markets and 51 US states, with the participation of the US Secretaries of Commerce, Treasury and Labour, as well as a number of governors and the US Chamber of Commerce officials.