The US Chamber of Commerce is looking into the possibility of expanding public-private partnerships (PPPs) with Qatar not only in the energy industry but with knowledge-based sectors like health, education, financial services, and Information Technology, an official has said.
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Steve Lutes, executive director of the US Chamber of Commerce’s Middle East Affairs International Division, noted that PPP is a growing trend worldwide and presents a “huge opportunity” for US companies.
“There’s continuing opportunities in the energy sector and we would expect that to continue. Now as Qatar wisely diversifies into sectors like healthcare, IT, financial services, and education, we would expect US companies to play an important role in those PPPs,” he told Gulf Times in an interview yesterday.
Lutes is in Qatar to head a delegation of 18 US companies and over 30 US business executives, who are part of the ‘2nd US-Qatar Economic and Investment Dialogue.”
Citing the large footprint of American universities in Qatar, Lutes said, “We would expect that to see that to grow as well because we think American companies have a lot of value and innovation, as well as global best practices that they can bring here so we think they are well-positioned for the exciting PPPs that would come down the pipeline with the diversification process of Qatar.”
On cultivating Qatar’s “entrepreneurship culture,” Lutes underscored the role of Qatar-based US universities, including possible partnerships with American business incubators in Silicon Valley, Boston, or Washington DC.
“Many of these incubators generate a lot of the new companies and a lot of exciting discoveries and innovation are occurring in incubators across the US and we would look for those types of entities to possibly set-up shop in Qatar or find a partner here and bring that way of thinking and discovery, innovation, and entrepreneurism here,” he said.
Lutes also emphasised that the chamber plans to bring more US business delegations to Qatar, which, he said, is positioning itself as a hub for the region to access the Middle East, Asia, and other global markets.
Asked to forecast US-Qatar bilateral ties amid uncertainty in the Middle East after president-elect Donald Trump’s victory in the recent US polls, Lutes said the US and Qatar share “a long and historic” geopolitical relationship.
“And I would expect these geopolitical ties to continue. One of the other critical pillars of the relationship is the economic relationship and we would expect that to continue strongly and continue to increase.
“While there are political considerations, at the end of the day I think Qatar has incredible opportunity. It is a dynamic and robust economy so I wouldn’t expect US businesses to curtail or to slide off in any way. I would expect, as the diversification continues, that more and more US companies will come here to do business,” Lutes stressed.
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