*Virtual session on commercial co-operation held within the framework of the third Qatar-US Strategic Dialogue

Qatar is seeking to explore new investment opportunities with the US, including in US infrastructure projects, a senior official told a virtual session on commercial co-operation, organised on Tuesday within the framework of the third Qatar-US Strategic Dialogue.

"Qatar is keen to strengthen co-operation with the US to pursue the development of an ecosystem that reflects positively on both countries, including the necessary frameworks to protect intellectual property and provide guarantees for investors," stated Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) undersecretary Sultan bin Rashid al-Khater.

He was co-chairing the session attended by Ian Steff, assistant secretary for Global Markets and director General of the United States and Foreign Commercial Service; and Peter Haas, principal deputy assistant secretary for Economic and Business Affairs.

A number of diplomats, ambassadors, senior officials and representatives of various governmental bodies and agencies from both countries participated.

"The third Qatar-US Strategic Dialogue was being held at a time of considerable global economic uncertainty and challenging trade dynamics," al-Khater said while recalling that the events of recent months following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic have been unprecedented, and serve to remind all parties of the importance of global commercial relationships and supply chains.

"Qatar’s commercial relationship with the US serves as a strong foundation for bilateral ties, and by all measures is vital and getting stronger. I look forward to organising in the US the second round of the Economic Roadshow, which was postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak," the official said.

The Qatari-US trade relations have gained considerable momentum since the signing of the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) in 2004, with total trade now eight times more than it was 16 years ago, and twice the value of 2017, he observed.

US firms are increasingly active in Doha. American companies have been operating in Qatar for decades, as critical partners in the nation’s development. The Strategic Dialogue presented an opportunity to work together with the US to find new ways to strengthen bilateral ties, and explore new mechanisms of co-operation to bolster economic and trade relations, despite the challenges brought on by the Covid-19 crisis.

Touching on the reforms that Qatar has undertaken in recent years to bolster its investment environment, the MoCI undersecretary said the country has been able to rapidly diversify local and global supply chains while stepping up efforts to improve its logistics networks to become one of the most advanced digital and logistical systems worldwide, connecting companies to global supply chains through advanced communications and transportation infrastructure.

Qatar has managed to maintain a resilient, diversified and globally connected economy, offering US investors key incentives to tap the Qatari market. The government has been keen on developing laws and regulations that incentivise investments. These include the law regulating the investment of non-Qatari capital in economic activity, which allows foreign investors up to 100% ownership in various sectors and economic activities, in addition to many other competitive advantages such as the freedom to transfer profits in any convertible currency.

Qatar has established an Investment Promotion Agency to streamline procedures and provide support to foreign investors, including US companies that may benefit from various investment opportunities in Qatar.

In line with its long-term economic diversification strategy, Qatar sought to bolster its private sector. In this context, a law was issued regulating the partnership between private and public sectors. The law empowers the private sector to tap key opportunities fueled by Qatar’s growth and development.

Foreign investors may tap infrastructure projects related to the FIFA 2022 World Cup, and opportunities in a thriving industrial sector that witnessed an increase in the number of operating factories to 915 as of this month (September).

In his closing remarks, al-Khater said Qatar and the US have achieved a great deal since the launch of the Strategic Dialogue three years ago. Qatar looks forward to capitalising on these special ties to explore the full spectrum of available business and investment opportunities, and to enhance its co-peration with the US across an array of sectors, despite the economic challenges that the world is currently facing.

"The US and Qatar’s commitment to working closely together would lead to the announcement of the upcoming Economic Roadshow and the signing of the announcement of intent to host an investment forum in 2021," the official announced.

The MoCI undersecretary lauded the agreement signed on Monday between Qatar's Widam Food Company and US' Tyson Fresh Meats for supplying protein in the global food and agribusiness sector. It represents an important step and provides an example of the rewarding co-operation between Qatar and the US.

The session featured a number of discussion panels that touched on Qatari investments in the US, investment opportunities in Qatar, the economic inclusion of women, and the incentives that Qatar Free Zones offer to investors.

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