INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS GROUPS

Qatar 2019 | ECONOMY | B2B

After merely a decade in the country, certain foreign chambers of commerce are helping Qatar build a far more diversified and interconnected economy.

Susanna Toi
SUSANNA TOI
Vice President
Singapore Business Council Qatar
Robert Hager
ROBERT HAGER
Chairman
American Chamber of Commerce, Qatar

How has your presence developed in Qatar?

SUSANNA TOI Singaporeans' presence began more than 10 years ago with consultancy services, after which more companies entered the market. One of them, Keppel Seghers Engineering, developed the Doha North Sewage Treatment Works. This landmark project is the largest greenfield wastewater treatment, water reuse, and sludge treatment project in Qatar. As a design-build-operate project, it was constructed and went into operations in early 2015. Another Singaporean company, Keppel Offshore & Marine, has combined its expertise with Qatar Gas Transport Co. to provide repairs, conversions, and maintenance for offshore and onshore facilities and vessels. The joint venture has also opened opportunities for specialist sub-contractors from Singapore. At present, there are numerous Singaporean companies in Qatar involved in the contracting business. One of them, SECC, has been awarded hotel fit-out packages in Lusail. This also opens more opportunities to Singaporean suppliers and sub-contractors. In the IT sector, CrimsonLogic, which helps the government to design and run innovative and sustainable e-services, developed and launched an electronic case management system for the Qatar International Dispute Resolutions Center in 2018. Pavilion Gas, a Singapore-based company in the integrated energy business, had its first LNG shipments from Qatar to Singapore in April 2018. The Singapore Business Council Qatar hopes to connect more Singaporean companies with expertise in Qatar and introduce more contracting and services companies for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

ROBERT HAGER AmCham Qatar has been operating here since 2010. One of our goals is to be a forum for US businesses operating in Qatar to get together periodically and share ideas and information about doing business here. We are also an outreach for local businesses and government for US businesses operating in Qatar, and what value they can bring to Qatar. It is effective to drive this agenda through the events we put together. We often do two or three events a month, and these bring people together in a more relaxed environment. We also have a Distinguished Speaker Series focused on thought leaders and decision makers in key sectors or projects that highlight US services, products, or ways of doing business. For example, leaders from US oil and gas companies talk about projects they are involved in and excellent practices from their industry. Qatar is still undergoing a great deal of rapid development and construction of infrastructure, and we have brought in key people to talk about construction projects and what has and has not worked for them. Since AmCham came to Qatar, the country has been working hard to meet the Qatar National Vision 2030 goals and create a more diversified and sustainable economy. We have tried to support this by highlighting different sectors, and not just the traditional oil and gas and construction sectors.

How do you support investors entering Qatar and vice versa?

ST Geographically, our companies are a long way away from Qatar, and in the absence of International Enterprise (IE) Singapore, the government's trade agency, we needed to do more. The Singapore Business Council Qatar was officially launched in May 2018, and we hope to serve as a platform to link companies from both countries. This includes providing them with information about companies in various sectors and industries. The council hopes to serve as a point of contact and reference. Qatari companies are interested in what we can do for them, such as arranging for them to meet with Singaporean firms. The council can act as a platform to introduce companies to one another and allow them to share information and knowledge and help each other with their business volumes. These are the principal functions of the Singapore Business Council Qatar, and we hope to have the full support of the embassy and IE Singapore.

RH As an organization that has been here for a while, we have access to US policymakers. We spend a significant amount of time working with our counterparts in the US government and US Chamber of Commerce, which is a private institution that represents US businesses worldwide. Through it, we are able to network directly with businesses throughout the US and other US chambers worldwide. We provide input to our government on issues related to Qatar, for example the challenges businesses face, such as customs. Our government then talks to the Qatari government to see how it can make things easier for US businesses; at the same time, we look at how we can make things easier for Qatari businesses in the US. AmCham Qatar is a communications bridge, as we often meet with officials and representatives of the US and Qatari governments. We are a non-governmental, private enterprise funded only by our members. We are a private sector voice for US businesses.