Overview of best prospect sectors, major infrastructure projects, significant government procurements and business opportunities.
The U.S. Commercial Service assesses that the best market opportunities for U.S. companies are in sectors such as infrastructure, ICT, food products, energy, healthcare, aviation, and defense.
The Government of Qatar budgeted $57.8 billion for expenditures in 2020, of which 43% was allocated spending on “Major Projects,” a category that includes infrastructure, healthcare, transportation, and education. Government spending will continue to support the long-term strategic goals set forth under the Qatar National Vision 2030, which include developing a knowledge-based economy and increasing the share of GDP derived from non-extractive industries.
The government has taken several initiatives to encourage more foreign companies to do business and invest in Qatar over the past year. The MoCI is leading the efforts on both the Foreign Direct Investment Law and Public Private Partnership (PPP) law. The PPP law was approved by the cabinet in April 2019 and signed by the Amir of Qatar on June 1, 2020, establishing a framework and providing increased opportunities for U.S. firms to gain access to the country’s infrastructure sectors, particularly in the healthcare, education, and waste management subsectors.
The embargo on Qatar significantly complicated food trade routes. Qatar imports over 90% of its food, and prior to the June 2017 blockade, Qatar received nearly 40% of these shipments via Saudi Arabia. Major food suppliers to Qatar were forced to establish alternative trade routes and food security became and continues to be a top priority. The government of Qatar continues to aggressively invest in local food production and has notably improved its food security since 2017, both by importing food products from a more diverse set of trading partners and by investing heavily in building food industries from the ground up, which presents an array of opportunities for U.S. companies.
The energy sector, specifically oil & gas production in Qatar, continues to present some of the greatest opportunities for U.S. companies, especially with Qatar’s mega North Field LNG expansion project, which is set to increase natural gas production by 43% in 2025 from 77.1 million tons per annum (mtpa) to 110 mtpa and targeting to achieve 64% mark at 126 mtpa in 2027. Qatar Petroleum plans to develop and operate a new petrochemical complex in Ras Laffan Industrial City, which will feature the region’s largest ethane cracker. Such projects provide additional opportunities for American companies to consider. Recently, Qatar Petroleum invited investors to participate in the recently announced Tawteen program, a localization initiative that aims to create domestic manufacturing and service opportunities for the energy sector supply chain.
The strong and growing bilateral security partnership between Qatar and the U.S. is demonstrated by the recent series of major U.S. defense sales to Qatar. Qatar’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program forms the cornerstone of security cooperation between U.S. and Qatari forces, with a total case value of over $26 billion. Since 2014, the U.S. has also authorized the permanent export of over $2.8 billion in defense articles to Qatar via the Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) process. As demonstrated in recent years, Qatar’s plan to expand and modernize its military will continue to provide opportunities for foreign military and direct commercial sales, especially training and capacity building programs across all branches of the Qatar Armed Forces. In addition to military modernization initiatives, Qatar’s significant demand for aviation technology is driven by the global expansion plan of the national commercial airline, Qatar Airways, as well as Qatar’s sole commercial airport, Hamad International Airport. Lastly, security solutions are a top priority in 2020-2021 as Qatar prepares to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.