Qatar - Country Commercial Guide
Investment Climate Statement

The Investment Climate Statement Chapter of the CCG is provided by the State Department. Any questions on the ICS can be directed to EB-ICS-DL@state.gov.

Last published date: 2022-01-30

The U.S. Department of State Investment Climate Statements provide information on the business climates of more than 170 economies and are prepared by economic officers stationed in embassies and posts around the world.  They analyze a variety of economies that are or could be markets for U.S. businesses.

Topics include Openness to Investment, Legal and Regulatory systems, Dispute Resolution, Intellectual Property Rights, Transparency, Performance Requirements, State-Owned Enterprises, Responsible Business Conduct, and Corruption.

These statements highlight persistent barriers to further U.S. investment.  Addressing these barriers would expand high-quality, private sector-led investment in infrastructure, further women’s economic empowerment, and facilitate a healthy business environment for the digital economy. 

Executive Summary

The State of Qatar is the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world. A diplomatic and economic embargo of Qatar launched by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt (the Quartet) in June 2017 ended in January 2021 when the Government of Qatar and those of the Quartet signed an agreement at a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit in al-Ula, Saudi Arabia that ended airspace, naval, and land embargos and laid the foundation for restoring diplomatic and commercial relations between Qatar and the Quartet countries. Despite a decrease in gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019 and 2020, which stemmed from depressed hydrocarbon prices and sales (the latter partially due to the Covid-19 pandemic), Qatar’s real GDP is forecasted to grow by 2.7 percent in 2021 according to the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) projections. This positive outlook is largely driven by Qatar Petroleum’s ambitious plans to expand LNG production by more than 60 percent over the next five years. Determined to maintain high-level government spending on projects ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Qatar projects a $9.5 billion budget deficit in 2021, based on a conservative oil price assumption of $40 per barrel. Qatar’s real GDP contracted by 4.5 percent in the third quarter of 2020, compared to the same period in 2019.

The government remains the dominant actor in the economy, though it encourages private investment in many sectors and continues to take steps to encourage more foreign direct investment (FDI). The dominant driver of Qatar’s economy is the energy sector, which has attracted tens of billions of dollars in FDI. In line with the country’s National Vision 2030 plan’s goal of establishing a knowledge-based and diversified economy, the government of Qatar has recently introduced reforms to its foreign investment and foreign property ownership laws that allow up to 100 percent foreign ownership of businesses in most sectors and real estate in newly designated areas. In 2020, the government also enacted legislation to regulate and promote Public-Private Partnerships.

There are significant opportunities for foreign investment in infrastructure, healthcare, education, tourism, energy, information and communications technology, and services. The government allocated $15 billion for new projects in these sectors over the next three years. Measured by the amount of inward FDI stock, manufacturing, mining and quarrying, finance, and insurance are the primary sectors that attract foreign investors. The government provides various incentives to attract local and foreign investments, including exemptions from customs duties and certain land-use benefits. The World Bank’s 2020 Doing Business Report ranked Qatar third globally in terms of favorable taxation regimes, and first in the category of ease of registering property. The corporate tax rate is 10 percent for most sectors and there is no personal income tax. One notable exception is the corporate tax of 35 percent on foreign firms in the extractive industries, including but not limited to those in natural gas extraction.

The government has created an effective regulatory regime that enables various government agencies (the Transparency Authority, the National Competition Protection Authority, and the Anti-Monopoly Committee) to curb corruption and anti-competitive practices. To improve transparency, the government streamlined its procurement processes in 2016 creating an online portal for all government tenders.

In recent years, Qatar has begun to invest heavily in the United States through its sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) and its subsidiaries, notably Qatari Diar. QIA has pledged to invest $45 billion in the United States. QIA opened an office in New York City in September 2015 to facilitate these investments. The September 2020 third annual U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue further strengthened strategic and economic partnerships and addressed obstacles to investment and trade. The fourth round of strategic talks is expected to take place in Doha in 2021. To access the ICS, visit the U.S. Department of State  2021 Qatar Investment Climate Statement. website.