Qatar has poured “$2.77bn” worth of foreign direct investments (FDI) into California, the second-largest Qatari FDI recipient after Texas, according to the US-Qatar Business Council (USQBC).
Citing data from the US Census Bureau, USQBC managing director Mohamed Barakat said California exported “$316.2mn” worth of goods to Qatar in 2019. During the same year, California’s imports from Qatar stood at “$28mn.” The value of Qatari donations to California amounted to “$5mn,” said Barakat.
Speaking at a virtual discussion hosted by the USQBC, the Commercial Attaché Office in the US for the State of Qatar, and the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, Barakat said the major exports from California to Qatar are aircraft, spacecraft and parts, nuclear reactors, boilers and machinery, and electric machinery and equipment.
The major merchandise California imports from Qatar include aluminum and articles, inorganic chemicals and rare-earth metals, and plastics, Barakat pointed out during the virtual discussion.
On US-Qatar trade, the total value of goods imported from Qatar stood at “$1.7bn” in 2019, while the total value of goods exported to Qatar in the same year amounted to “$6.5bn,” said Barakat, citing data from the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR).
Major US exports to Qatar include transportation equipment, defence technologies, and electronics, while the major imports from Qatar include petroleum products, chemicals, and primary metal manufacturing (aluminium), Barakat said.
He said US investment opportunities in Qatar belong to diverse sectors, such as ICT and services, infrastructure, energy, healthcare, education, and tourism. The top Qatari FDI sectors in the US are communications, energy, real estate, and financial services.
“California has an incredibly diverse economy, with Hollywood, Silicon Valley, manufacturing, healthcare, and agriculture all making significant contributions. California contributes to 13% of total agricultural cash receipts in the US.
“Large trade shows and conferences, such as Dreamforce and Oracle OpenWorld take place in California, which is home to the largest innovation network in the country, with 16 innovation hubs (iHubs),” said Barakat.
Barakat said California, which had a “$3.1tn” GDP in 2019, is the “first largest economy” in the US, and the “fifth-largest economy in the world.” With 17 foreign trade zones in California, the Los Angeles County has the most foreign-owned enterprises, he said, adding that California has the largest investment received by a US state in 2019 at “$22.7bn.”
He said select Californian companies doing business with Qatar include multinational energy corporation, Chevron, which has had one of the longest standing presence in Qatar through Chevron Phillips Chemical Company (CPChem).
Among other companies, Barakat said EatJust secured “$200mn” in a 2020 funding round led by Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), joined by private investment firm Charlesbank Capital Partners and Vulcan Capital.
Meanwhile, SoFi closed over “$500mn” in equity financing led by QIA, which values the company at “$4.3bn” on a pre-money basis. Califia Farms completed one of the largest private capital raisings within the natural foods sector through a “$225mn” Series D financing led by QIA in 2020, Barakat said.
Through its joint venture with QIA, Douglas Emmett acquired The Glendon, a residential community in Westwood with 350 apartments and approximately 50,000sq ft of retail in 2019 for “$365mn.” They have also invested “$1.3bn” in LA Office Portfolio in 2016.
Gigamon Inc is a leader in traffic visibility solutions for cybersecurity and monitoring applications. It was jointly acquired by Elliott Management (Elliott), a leading multi-strategy private investment firm, and QIA for “$1.6bn,” said Barakat.