The U.S. and Qatari governments recently met in Doha for the fifth annual U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue, an exemplary model of collaboration to grow and develop the bilateral relationship between both countries. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has long been an advocate of the Dialogue as a way to prioritize the relationship at the highest level, and we commend the U.S. and Qatari governments for using this platform to ensure consistent and sustained engagement.
The fifth Strategic Dialogue comes during the year that marks the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Qatar, a milestone that highlights the enduring friendship between our two countries. The Dialogue also follows U.S. President Joe Biden designating Qatar as a “Major Non-NATO Ally’ to the U.S. during a visit by Qatar’s Amir H.H. Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to the White House in January 2022, a recognition of the longstanding and special partnership between the U.S. and Qatar.
What is the U.S. Chamber doing to promote the U.S. private sector in Qatar?
I had the honor of representing the Chamber in Doha during a private sector roundtable we organized on the sidelines of the Dialogue with the U.S. and Qatar business communities and governments. Hosted in partnership with the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar (AmCham Qatar) and the U.S.-Qatar Business Council (USQBC), the event was instrumental in providing the private sector an opportunity to give input on the strengths and issues that mark the economic relationship. The private sector plays an important role in the overall relationship, and our event serves as a forum ensuring global business leaders’ top voices have a seat at the table.
What is the U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue?
First initiated in 2018, the Strategic Dialogue has served as an important avenue for American and Qatari officials to form new partnerships in areas such as commercial and security ties to education, culture, and energy collaboration.
The fifth Strategic Dialogue was formally launched on November 22, 2022, on the sidelines of the FIFA World Cup by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister H.E. Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani. Last week, both governments were able to continue the Dialogue and have the more detailed and technical conversations that are necessary to implement new partnerships and drive forward positive changes in the bilateral relationship.
Why is the U.S.-Qatar economic relationship important?
Trade and investment are fundamental to the U.S.-Qatar relationship. Both countries have maintained strong economic ties for decades, and an increasing number of American companies are entering the Qatari market every year. In 2022, trade between the U.S. and Qatar was over $9 billion, an exponential increase from 2019 despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic during that time. The U.S. is Qatar’s largest foreign director investor and its single largest source of imports, and over 120 U.S. companies operate in the country across the economy.
U.S. companies have played a major role in the development of many sectors in Qatar, including energy, defense, aviation, ICT, healthcare, food, and engineering/construction. Qatar is also coming off a successful 2022 FIFA World Cup where U.S. companies were vital partners to the high performance and safety of the games, from designing stadiums to providing hospitality for visitors and implementing the digital infrastructure behind it all. As a result, Qatar has emerged as a prominent player in the global economy and certainly remains a valuable economic partner for the U.S.
Qatar is also a significant investor in the U.S., particularly in real estate and financial services. For example, Qatar's sovereign wealth fund-the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA)—has invested billions of dollars in U.S. companies and properties, including luxury hotels, shopping centers, and office buildings. In addition, Qatar has established partnerships with several U.S. universities and research institutions, providing funding for academic research and development.
Don’t forget about Qatar’s role in global energy markets...
Beyond these economic ties, Qatar is the world’s leading exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and is investing heavily in expanding its LNG production capacity. LNG is vital to the global energy transition, especially given rising global energy uncertainty. This all means that Qatar will remain a major player in a global energy market that is increasingly looking for energy security. American companies will continue to serve as major partners to Qatar in developing and deploying these resources.
The U.S.-Qatar relationship is also about the security of the region;
Qatar is home to the largest U.S. military base in the Middle East, which serves as a strategic hub for U.S. operations in the region and a major source of U.S. investment. This base is critical to global efforts to counter terrorism, maintain stability, and promote regional security. Qatar has also consistently served as a regional mediator and peacemaker and has a history of using its diplomatic and economic resources to promote stability in the Middle East and globally. In short, Qatar is increasing soft power on the global stage. The security collaboration between the U.S. and Qatar enhances regional safety, and American companies are playing a leading role in fortifying this security relationship.
Discussions during the Dialogue reflect the great optimism around the U.S.-Qatar relationship. Qatar continues to improve its business environment to make it more attractive for international investment and is expanding projects in areas such as ICT, infrastructure, oil and gas, and logistics, and the Chamber will continue to champion these initiatives to strengthen enterprise. There are many opportunities for American businesses to contribute to Qatar's long-term economic development as we look beyond the World Cup. The bilateral trade relationship will only continue to flourish and the U.S. business community—through the U.S. Chamber and our member companies—will remain a committed partner for many years to come.
About the authors
Senior Manager, Middle East Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce