Managing Director, British Chamber of Commerce Qatar (BCCQ)
Chairman, American Chamber of Commerce Qatar
ROBERT A. HAGER Throughout the year, we have been organizing and participating in events that highlight US businesses and institutions in the country, discuss issues of interest to the US and Qatari community, and provide an opportunity for people and businesses to meet. We are pleased that the chamber continues to support the many US educational institutions that are in Qatar and feel that their presence here is an important part of the US-Qatar relationship. We are also beginning this year to work closely with the Qatar Chamber of Commerce to assist it in its efforts to bring in investors from the US into Doha.
PETER COOK It has been a busy year. One key feature is that there is a continuing strong interest in doing business in this market. We have had just over 400 companies express an interest in doing business here. The chamber met with each and in most cases we were able to offer some real help. Most recently we supported the British Embassy hosting a Sports Trade Mission focused on the business of sport. We were pleased to support the embassy and the Supreme Council for Delivery and Legacy as their engagement made it a much more meaningful mission for those UK businesses that attended. Earlier in 2017, we also hosted a delegation from the Royal Institute of British Architects. We feel green construction is an area where British architects have genuine expertise and we want to promote that message.
RAH We add value in several different ways. We provide an opportunity for other US companies to meet companies that could compliment them here in Qatar. AmCham provides a chance to participate in events that can increase the profile of a brand in the country, and we offer sponsorship opportunities in this regard as well. We have events that are not just informational—there are social and educational events that add value. Through these events we also provide opportunities for US companies to share their experiences and challenges. Every year, we represent our AmCham members here in Qatar in Washington DC through our “Door Knock Visit.“ This visit allows our members to meet decision makers in Congress and the administration to discuss important issues such as taxation, immigration, trade, investment, standards, and other issues of importance to US businesses in Qatar.
PC The key for us is to try and ensure that we support excellent businesses and encourage them to take a longer-term view. Rightly or wrongly, there has been a perception in the past that some foreign businesses look at countries like Qatar only in a one-off transactional way. I believe the Qatar government wants to see people making a longer-term investment in the future of the country. We want to engage business to see that the benefits are better over the longer term through repeat business and demonstrating it is a responsible member of society here.
RAH Though our focus is here in Doha, we are available as a resource to Qatari investors who need information about the US. We are available to help get them in contact with the right people about how to do business in the US. The US is a relatively easy place to do business, but there are complications that investors need to be aware of and plan appropriately. There are tax implications related to investments, and people do not necessarily realize that the US is not a national, but a federal system, and that states and local authorities have significant power and rules that you have to navigate. The hope is that these investments will also be a catalyst to more US investment in Qatar.
PC One of our ambitions is to be a bilateral chamber. This is about supporting both British and Qatari business. We have had stronger interest from UK companies looking to take on the Qatar market than the other way around. Qatari companies tend to favor doing business regionally. We would like to help break that mold and genuinely support a more international approach. The BCCQ can help here by introducing Qatari companies that are buying UK products and services to the same UK companies that are supplying them. One idea that could be particularly helpful is to take them to the UK to meet a range of suppliers across an industry. By broadening their range of contacts and connections, we can help Qatari businesses form partnerships and joint ventures that allow them to reach new markets that they might not otherwise access.
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