MENA Department July Executive Update
The midpoint of the annual observance of Ramadan is an appropriate time for reflection as well as preparation; an opportunity to celebrate our accomplishments in the first part of the year while gearing up to implement a very ambitious programmatic agenda during the latter half of 2012.
Already this year, we have journeyed to Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, Israel, Jordan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq. In September, we will field the U.S. Chamber’s largest-ever, high-level business delegation to Egypt. At this critical moment in that country’s unfolding transition we will meet with senior officials of the new government, including President Mohamed Morsi. In addition, we are organizing exciting sector-focused missions to Libya, Iraq’s Kurdish Region, Saudi Arabia, and Israel, as well as a major suppliers’ conference in southern Iraq before year’s end. And our policy agenda in Washington will be no less aggressive as America prepares for national elections and the shifts that will naturally stem from their results.
The breadth of our work is indicative of the value that we continue to provide our member companies. We are enhancing the Chamber brand throughout the region as the premier voice for our member companies, facilitating greater access to the region’s markets, advocating for improved regulatory frameworks, and dismantling remaining barriers to trade and investment.
An example of this acumen can be found in the work that we are doing in Israel right now. Israel’s recent discovery of world-class natural gas reserves off its coast presents a range of new possibilities for the country – economic, strategic, and diplomatic. This news presents the nation with an opportunity to strengthen its energy sector while introducing a new revenue source. Since Israel does not yet have the infrastructure in place to access and refine its natural gas resources, it has turned to U.S. private sector expertise.
This month, our U.S.-Israel Business Initiative announced the launch of a new program to enhance U.S.-Israel energy cooperation. The program aims to enhance the Israeli government’s understanding of the global energy sector while establishing robust and mutually rewarding commercial ties between Israel’s hydrocarbon sector and U.S. businesses.
We are engaging the government of Saudi Arabia in a similar vein in the renewable –solar, wind, and nuclear – energy sector. The country announced in May that it plans to build a $109 billion solar industry by 2032, which is why we are planning to lead a delegation of U.S. energy companies to Saudi Arabia this November.
As economic and fiscal malaise continues to burden European markets, MENA governments and companies are seeking alternative up-and-coming markets in which to invest. The region abounds with such opportunities. And while considerable environmental challenges lie ahead, we will continue to showcase these opportunities for our current members and prospective investors.
Following a break in August, this newsletter will resume in September. In the meantime, have a pleasant and safe summer and thanks so much for your strong support of our efforts.
Lionel C. Johnson
Vice President for Middle East and North Africa Affairs