Posted on June 19, 2019

The US-Qatar Business Council and the US Chamber of Commerce hosted a business luncheon on Monday, welcoming His Excellency Ali Al Kuwari, Minister of Commerce & Industry of the State of Qatar, on his first official visit to the United States since his appointment as Minister. The Minister is leading a private sector delegation to Washington this week to participate in the 2019 Select USA Investment Summit.

The luncheon welcomed over 60 senior US executives to meet the Minister and members of his delegation, as well as Qatar's Ambassador to the United States, His Excellency Sheikh Meshal bin Hamad Al Thani. Sponsors of the luncheon included ConocoPhillips, LuLu Group/Y International USA, and Excelerate Energy, all of whom are major partners of the State of Qatar and Oryx level members of the US-Qatar Business Council.

Khush Choksy, Senior Vice President for Middle East & Turkey Affairs at the US Chamber of Commerce, opened the luncheon, welcoming the Minister and his delegation to the United States. Jared Cutright, International Government Affairs and Political Risk Manager at ConocoPhillips, commended the Minister on Qatar's strong business climate and the ease of foreign direct investment. Steven Kobos, Managing Director of Excelerate Energy, also thanked the Minister for participating and the Chamber and the Council for hosting. He shared the numerous projects Excelerate is engaged in Qatar and their commitment to the US-Qatar trade relationship. Scott Weber, Regional Manager for Y International USA, part of LuLu Group International, also thanked the Minister and his delegation. LuLu Group/Y International USA has major operations in New Jersey, for export to Qatar.

Anne Patterson, President of the US-Qatar Business Council delivered brief remarks after thanking the Minister and his team, the Qatar Ambassador to the United States, His Excellency Sheikh Meshal Bin Hamad Al Thani, and the participants including the US Chargé d’Affaires to Qatar, Mr. William Grant for their support of the US-Qatar bilateral relationship.   

"Qatar has major projects underway that create great opportunity for American companies, and for stability in the region. Qatar's $30-40 billion LNG expansion project will secure the State's place as the world's largest supplier of natural gas and will require the support of American companies. Qatar Petroleum will continue to invest in the United States, creating more American jobs across the country. Qatar is a great support to the US economy and the trade relationship has never been stronger," said Ambassador Patterson. "Qatar has created a very favorable business climate with incentives for investors, a strong, well-educated labor force, and is home to the largest business incubator in the region. We encourage American companies to take advantage of the Minister's time in Washington, and to look to future opportunities for trade and investment," she added.

The Minister delivered remarks, welcoming guests to the luncheon and thanking the Council and the US Chamber for hosting him and his delegation. He focused on the strength of the Qatari economy and recent legislation meant to improve bilateral trade and investment. "The United States is key to Qatar's economic growth. The US-Qatar trade relationship is growing increasingly strong, with a balance of 84% in favor of the United States. Over 19% of Qatar's imports come from the United States, with 15,000 Americans working in Qatar. Qatar is working continuously to attract foreign investment and to connect its economy regionally and globally,” said the Minister.

The Minister also described the steps taken to rationalize the investment process, through a new umbrella organization, Qatar Investment Promotion Agency, that will help companies work with the Qatar Free Zones Authority, Qatar Financial Center, and other entities including the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. He urged companies to seek out partners in Qatar’s private sector, which has invested more than $5 billion in the US market. The Minister described Qatar as the ideal place to set up shop to work in markets like Iraq. Qatar’s infrastructure, air links, incentive structure, and relations with Iraq make Qatar an ideal place to locate. The Minister also described Qatar as the focal point for a 400+ million-person market regionally, which can be easily reached by Qatar’s excellent transportation links and infrastructure.

Commenting on the luncheon, Mohammed Barakat, Managing Director of the US-Qatar Business Council said, "We appreciate the Minister's participation and are encouraged by the growth in Qatar he described. The Council stands at the ready to support bilateral trade initiatives and looks forward to engaging more American companies in Qatar."