Michael Greenwald, Former US Treasury Attache to Qatar and Kuwait and Atlantic Council Senior Advisor, appeared on the Atlantic Council on 06 June 2018 to discuss the Gulf rift, implications on the economy and region, and competition between the states.
Qatar and the United States have further strengthened bilateral trade ties as the US Department of Energy approved Golden Pass, an international energy company, to export Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). Golden Pass, a joint endeavour between US energy giant, ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips (which holds a 30% stake) and Qatar Petroleum (which holds a 70% stake), will invest an estimated $10 billion in improving and modernizing current US infrastructure. This effort would allow the US access to international LNG shipping lanes and terminals.
Golden Pass’s existing facilities, in Jefferson County, Texas, will play a crucial role in expanding the US footprint in the global energy market. Currently, Russia, Qatar, and several other nations dominate the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) market.
This venture will allow the US to enter the already dominated LNG market, taking advantage of recent technological advances in oil fracking, in a formidable partnership with Qatar. Natural gas in the US has been produced as a by-product of hydraulic fracking and has been usually wasted in the past. Qatar’s involvement in the project, through its position as a seasoned exporter and producer, would bring invaluable expertise to US producers that would be able to export two products rather than just one.
US producers are just arriving onto the Natural Gas market and face stiff competition. Qatar’s experience and relationships in the LNG export business will be able to shorten or even eliminate the learning curve for US companies. In doing so, US exporters are able to gain further profits in conjunction with their oil exports.
The Department of Energy authorization will allow additional infrastructure to be established in Florida, Louisiana, Texas, and Georgia that are estimated to create 45,000 US jobs in the coming years. The initiative will also allow local and federal governments access to additional revenue, with Golden Pass estimating that it will have to pay around $2.4 billion in federal taxes and $1.2 billion in state taxes.
This venture will also strengthen the US trade deficit as the new authorization will allow Golden Pass to export 6.2 million cubic meters of natural gas. US Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry, stated:
“This is not only good for our economy and American jobs but also assists other countries with their energy security.”
(Image Source: Fuel Fix)
“It’s… fascinating the amount of business that the U.S. does with the government of Qatar, which is not on anybody’s radar screen. It’s like the best kept secret in America.” -John Fredericks
Barakat and Fredericks discussed the scope and details of the U.S.’s economic relationship with Qatar. Barakat discussed the scope of the trade between Qatar and the U.S. and the substantial number of jobs created.
“The total jobs that Qatari investment into the United States has created just recently is about one million jobs… Creating a million jobs is nothing to sneeze at.” -John Fredericks
“The orders between Qatar Airways and American aircraft manufacturing is keeping major, major cities where they have these factories alive and growing… Every $1 billion of exports will actually contribute to 5,744 jobs in the United States.” -Mohammed Barakat
Mohammed Barakat noted that the strength of Qatari internet infrastructure and economic development made Qatar a uniquely desirable site for establishing new business.
“[In] Qatar, almost 98% of the country is covered with fiber optics – you can set up anyplace high speed or ultra-high speed internet in many places. You have free zones… available for you to establish a company or offices, you can hire skilled employees from anyplace in the world.” -Mohammed Barakat
John Fredericks Show with Mohammed Barakat
The World Bank recently reported that Qatar’s economic performance is expected to steadily accelerate in 2018 and continue to do so through 2020.
“Growth is expected to recover to 2.8% in 2018, and rise further to an average of 3% in 2019-20…”
The World Bank cited multiple factors in the expectation for further economic growth, including revenue from energy exports, infrastructure spending in anticipation for the World Cup in 2022, and a new natural gas facility that will become operational in 2020. The publication cited Qatar’s government actions as mitigating the effects of the illegal diplomatic siege.
“Government efforts to ease the costs and to lighten the effects of the blockade on the population will likely limit the scope for cutting spending sharply.”
The report also notes that new Qatari tax measures will limit Qatar’s fiscal deficit.
“… [K]ey tax policy and administrative measures, including the introduction of a VAT and excises during 2018 are expected to further contain the fiscal deficit over the medium term…”
(Image Source: The Peninsula)
Qatar’s economic ties with the United States have steadily grown in recent years, with the state of Qatar ranking as the fourth largest market in the Middle East for US exports of goods and services. Trade between the US and Qatar amounted to nearly six billion dollars in 2017, with Qatar importing $4.88 billion worth of goods and services.
The two most recent developments coming at the tail of the Emir of Qatar’s visit to the US are deals being discussed with American companies Exxon and Boeing. Qatar Airways is currently in talks with Boeing corporation to acquire nearly five wide body Boeing freighter aircraft valued at $1.7 billion. This acquisition would add to Qatar Airways’ current 100 Boeing aircraft fleet that has an additional 100 more on order.
This is further complimented by early discussion between Qatar Gas, a subdivision of Qatar Petroleum, and ExxonMobil. The two companies are expected to finalize a gas exploration and export deal that would see Qatar Petroleum investing $10 billion in fields from East Texas to North Dakota.
Trade figures between the two nations are expected to increase even further as the Emir of Qatar meets with policy makers and military officials in Washington this week. In 2017, the sale of 24 Apache helicopters was approved at a price of $667 million dollars. In addition to the helicopter purchase, Qatar also acquired the Patriot and Javelin air-defense systems at a total price valued to be $11 billion.
The previous sale is now being complemented through the most recent purchase of the Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System (APKWS) at a price of $300 million that was approved by the Pentagon and the State Department. The deal would benefit BAE Systems and its subsidiaries. This sale comes at the heel of a March agreement that would provide military hardware upgrades and other equipment to the Qatari Air Force valued at $197 million.
Additionally, early this year (2018) Qatar announced the expansion and upgrading of facilities and housing for the nearly 10000 US troops stationed at CENTCOM headquarters at Al Udeid air base. This upgrading of facilities will now be complemented with possible talks regarding the expansion of naval base facilities for the US 5th fleet at Hamad port.
(Image Source: San Antonia Express News)
Senior Qatari business and government leaders visited Miami this week for a business roadshow featuring several events. The visit included the Qatari Ministry of Economy and Commerce, the Ministry of Energy and Industry, the Qatar Investment Authority, the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Qatar Businessmen Association, Qatar Airways, the Qatar Stock Exchange, the Doha Film Institute, the Qatar Foundation, and the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy.
“I am honored to welcome hundreds of executives and officials from Qatar to Miami for the Qatar-US Economic Forum and the US-Qatar Business Council… I look forward to building upon these relationships and sharing everything Miami has to offer with the international community.” – Miami Mayor Francis Suarez
The visit included a business forum on Wednesday, April 4th, featuring the largest Qatari government and business delegation to ever visit Florida. About 200 Miami business representatives attended the event, including representatives from real estate, hospitality, infrastructure, technology, and more.
“Florida’s famous hospitality industry can benefit from Qatar’s hosting of the four million people expected for the World Cup 2022. Qatar is a strong and reliable investor and trading partner for the United States, importing more goods from the US than anywhere else in the world.” – Ambassador Anne Patterson, President of the U.S.-Qatar Business Council
His Highness, the Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani visited Miami in a reception that included current and former members of Congress and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez. HH the Emir shared his thoughts on how to improve cooperation between Qatar and the U.S. in Miami and elsewhere in the areas of trade and investment.
“Miami’s business community is looking forward to further partnerships with their Qatari counterparts in the development of Miami’s existing infrastructure, as well as US investments in Doha.” – Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau president and CEO William Talbert
(Cover Image Source: Ministry of Economy & Commerce (Qatar) – Twitter)
Qatar’s Fund for Development (QFFD) recently signed an agreement that would provide a $3 million grant to assist in the rebuilding of Mosul’s (and surrounding regions’) water handling capacity, infrastructure, and safety. It will be administered in conjunction with the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the Qatar Red Crescent.
The agreement was signed by the Executive Director of QFFD, Misfer bin Hamad Al Shahwani and UNICEF’s regional director to the Middle East and North Africa, Geert Cappelaere. The grant is aimed at rebuilding water infrastructure and increasing women and children’s access to adequate and safe water services.
The grant will improve water sanitation and hygiene facilities in area schools and develop a Water Safety Plan for the region. Additionally, it serves to strengthen in the administration and capacity of the Water Directorate in the governorate of Nineveh to provide water resources to the wider region.The grant is part of Qatar’s broader commitment to rebuild Iraq. After a global donor conference, Qatar agreed to donate $1 billion to help Iraq in rebuilding out of a total $30 billion pledged by regional neighboring states.
Director Al Shahwani stated:
“The project also aims at providing children and their families with access to adequate and safe water services, and access to sanitation services in health and education facilities. In addition, it is designed to strengthen the role of the Water Directorate in Nineveh Governorate and build on its capacity to provide integrated water resources”
UNICEF Regional Director added:
“The generous contribution from Qatar Development Fund is critical for UNICEF’s efforts to assist children in Iraq, allowing us to increase access to clean water and improve water and sanitation facilities, including in schools and communities affected by the violence in the country”
An article in the Wall Street Journal overviewed the ways in which Qatar has adjusted and, indeed, thrived in the face of the illegal blockade facing the country. By establishing new trade routes, Qatar has robustly demonstrated that it will not be coerced by economic pressure from the siege nations.
“What happened to us is something that we don’t want to happen to another country… it will be very dangerous for the region if aggressive acts like this become the new norm.” -Sheikh Saif bin Ahmed Al Thani, director of the Qatari Government Communications Office
The article illustrates how the blockade is more likely to backfire the longer it is in place. Qatar has been forced to deepen its trade routes with nations beyond the siege countries, and as those adjustments become the new normal, they will only further reduce the amount of leverage the siege countries have over Qatar in the future.
“These trade links sooner rather than later will become stable and normal, and this may affect the geopolitics of the region in the future.” -Nader Kabbani, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center
The blockade has accelerated certain political and economic reforms Qatar planned. The reforms are welcome news for Qatari residents, citizens, and businesspeople, but are not linked specifically to the demands of the blockading countries.
Since June, the emirate has abolished visa requirements for 80 nationalities, moved to establish permanent-residency rights for foreigners, and is setting up free economic zones. There are even plans for holding elections to a new legislature.
Rather than scaring international companies out of doing work with Qatar, the diplomatic siege has inadvertently led to a surge in business penetration in Qatar.
Because of severed air links, multinational companies can no longer fly executives on daytrips to Doha from the Gulf’s regional hub of Dubai… This has led many international companies to establish branches in Doha, leading to a 70% rise in the number of firms operating under QTF licenses.
The article cited a recent report by the International Monetary Fund that notes how the diplomatic blockade has “acted as a catalyst for enhancing domestic food production and reducing reliance on a small group of countries.”
On Wednesday, February 14th 2018, Qatar pledged to $1 billion in reconstruction aid to Iraq at the Kuwait International Conference of Iraq Reconstruction and Development in Kuwait City. The Conference of Iraq’s friends and allies, hosted by Kuwait, the World Bank, and the European Union, garnered over $30 billion in reconstruction aid, loans, and direct investments:
A total $30 billion in pledges were made Wednesday at a donor conference for Iraq’s reconstruction after the country’s devastating war with the Islamic State group
Kuwait’s Emir, Sheikh Sabah declared Iraq’s peaceful reconstruction a priority for the region:
This large assembly of international communities that are here today is reflective of the large loss that Iraq withstood in facing terrorism,” Sheikh Sabah said. “Iraq cannot commence the mission of rebuilding itself without support, which is why we are all here today from all around the world, to stand by Iraq’s side.”
Iraq has been devastated by a years-long fight against violent extremism within its borders:
Of the money needed, Iraqi officials estimate that $17 billion alone needs to go toward rebuilding homes, the biggest single line item offered Monday, on the first day of meetings. The United Nations estimates 40,000 homes need to be rebuilt in Mosul alone.
The war against the Islamic State group displaced more than 5 million people in Iraq, only half of whom have returned to their hometowns.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi urged all his country’s neighbors to contribute:
“We need to rely on all our neighbors and friends to help Iraq invest in its future,” he said.
Qatari Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad bin Abdullah Al Mahmoud and Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker toured the Boeing facility in Charleston, South Carolina on Friday, February 2nd. Boeing CEO Kevin McAllister spoke highly of Boeing’s partnership with Qatar Airways, citing the tens of thousands of American jobs created based on Qatar Airways’ purchases from Boeing:
Qatar has had major military and commercial contracts with Boeing since 2006 when Qatar Airways bought 22 Boeing 777 planes. The relationship has deepened – Qatar Airways now has 30 Boeing 787-9s on order and in late 2017 the Qatari military placed a $6.2 billion order for 36 Boeing F-15s. These procurements are a major boon to the U.S. economy in areas like South Carolina, where Boeing has a 787 factory with 6,800 employees and contractors.
Qatar has also expressed interest in broader investments in South Carolina. Coinciding with the Deputy Prime Minister and Qatar Airways CEO’s visit, the Qatar Investment Authority CEO Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Thani met with Governor Henry McMaster and Senator Lindsey Graham to discuss possible Qatari investments in real estate, infrastructure, energy, and elsewhere in South Carolina.