Secretary Michael R. Pompeo
At the U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue
September 14, 2020
Loy Henderson Auditorium
SECRETARY POMPEO: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to our third U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue. We’re spending a lot of time together these days, which is glorious.
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I want to welcome Your Excellencies, Minister al-Thani, Minister al-Emadi, and Minister al-Kuwari, and Ambassador al-Thani. Thank you for joining us. Secretaries Mnuchin, Ross, I’m grateful for your partnership, and we look forward to hosting Qatar’s full delegation in person next year, inshallah. It said “God willing” on my remarks.
Minister al-Thani, it’s wonderful to see you again. I was with you on Saturday when you hosted me for the opening of the intra-Afghan negotiations. It’s a credit to our joint effort and Qatar’s tireless support that these talks truly have now begun and that they will be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned. We commend you for helping your Afghan neighbors toward the prosperity that comes with a lasting peace.
This is only one of the ways that Qatar is promoting stability in the region. Tomorrow, as Israel and the UAE join President Trump at the White House to sign a historic agreement to normalize relations, we anticipate other countries in the Middle East will recognize the benefits of a closer relationship with Israel. In that effort, also, Qatar plays an invaluable role in helping stabilize Gaza, as well as regional efforts to de-escalate tensions both in Syria and in Lebanon.
To keep our focus on this work, and to close the door to increased Iranian meddling, it’s past time to find a solution to the Gulf rift. The Trump administration is eager to see this dispute resolved and to reopen Qatar’s air and land borders currently blocked by other Gulf states. I look forward to progress on this issue.
I’m happy, too, today that we’re going to sign an MOU designating 2021 as the year of U.S.-Qatar Year of Culture, and to discuss opportunities for cultural exchange. The MOU emphasizes our partnership has grown beyond just defense and economics into one of true friendship and community between our people and our two countries.
Finally, I’m very happy about our Open Skies relationship which enters into force today, cementing the civil aviation partnership between our two countries. I know that my counterparts are looking forward to a set of parallel discussions on trade and investment, counterterrorism, global health, energy, military cooperation, and many more topics.
And so with that, Minister al-Thani, I welcome your remarks. I want to thank our Qatari friends for sharing in the responsibilities – and successes – in our many shared efforts of cooperation. Minister.
MINISTER AL-THANI: Good morning, dear friends, Secretary of State Pompeo, Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin, Secretary of trade – of Commerce Mr. Ross, Your Excellencies, member of the two participating delegations. I am delighted to express on behalf of myself and the Qatari delegation our deepest gratitude for your warm welcome, and would further like to thank the two delegations for their great efforts in participate – in preparing for this meeting during an unprecedented time when we all battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our meeting today represents another significant milestone in a historically deep and continuous relationship between Qatar and the United States. Holding this third Strategic Dialogue is a demonstration of the flourishing relation between our two countries, enabled by the mutual commitment between His Highness the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, and President Donald Trump, that emphasizes broad areas of cooperation as well as the deep friendship between the two countries.
In this third Strategic Dialogue, we are not only strengthening existing economic, military, and security cooperation, but also expanding to include other equally important areas of education, culture, and development. The signing of the MOUs on the Qatar-U.S. Year of Culture, 2021, and the MOU with the USAID and Qatar supporting the Fulbright Scholarship – beyond the major steps forward in our longstanding commercial and military partnership – show the range and the depth of the – of our ties and underscore our continued constructive engagement despite the unique regional challenges our country has been successfully managing over the last three years.
Together, with your support to – with our support to several U.S. states and cities in their efforts to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, the broad range of cooperation demonstrated here at this Strategic Dialogue makes clear Qatar’s strong affinity for the American people. Qatar views the United States not simply as a partner, but as an ally and friend. To be sure, our commercial partnership remains robust and is indeed strong than ever. Qatar has invested billions of dollars in the U.S. economy. Our economic partnership exceeded $200 billion, and the U.S. has been an integral investor in Qatar and Qatar’s development. Together, this investment translate to tens of thousands of jobs and the lifechanging opportunity for our people.
We look forward to expanding upon these ties, including through upcoming trade and investment promotion events. These events will include a roadshow in 2021 involving multiple delegations to several U.S. cities to explore partnerships in technology, investment, energy, and other areas.
I also look forward to our discussions on issues of mutual interest and the reaffirmation of our commitment to deepening our partnership in areas that include political and regional interests. We will also discuss range of defense and security issues including shared threats, opportunities for the regional cooperation and mechanisms for the defeating of malign actors arrayed against us. Qatar and the United States are in agreement that such threats are among the greatest challenges we face today in the Middle East to our shared vision of peace, stability, and prosperity for all.
As foremost partners in a global coalition against terrorism and violent extremism, both our countries will continue to strengthen coordination and intensify cooperation on the full range of our shared interests based on international law and security standards. Our progress and significant efforts respecting mutual assurances and taking action to neutralize the menace of terrorism and is making the world a safer place. Now, where is this more clear than in the remarkable progress achieved toward peace in Afghanistan? The recent commencement of talks towards the reconciliation, which we in Qatar are deeply pleased to host, represent a truly historic accomplishment. My friend, Secretary Pompeo, Qatar commends your leadership on this achievement.
The steps forward in Afghanistan also reflect America’s continued efforts toward achieving peace in the Middle East as whole. Qatar praises the U.S. steadfast commitment to peace in the region and we are pleased to continue our close cooperation towards this important goal. The momentous development in Afghanistan is the latest example of the close interaction between our two countries on the political level. We are confronting issues that matter not only to our two nations but also to the wider stability of the Middle East and neighboring regions. Despite regional challenges including the ongoing blockade against us, our cooperation has continuously strengthened since we held the first Qatar-U.S. Strategic Dialogue in January 2018.
I would like to thank the U.S. for supporting the Kuwaiti mediation to resolve the blockade on the basis of the respect for the sovereignty and independence of the state of Qatar. Qatar foreign policy continues to represent peace, stability, and prosperity elements that reflects our national values. Due to these values, Qatar not only stands firm in the face of the blockade, but indeed stronger having developed its relation with the global community to unprecedented levels. Dear secretaries, our mutual goal is to deepen the strategic points between our two countries and to continue to go forward together in increased cooperation in fields that are of the highest mutual and practical benefits.
In closing, I would like to reiterate my profound appreciation to you for all your efforts to ensure that this round of Strategic Dialogue, just as previous ones, is successful. And we look forward to hosting the fourth round next year in Doha. Thank you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Minister al-Thani. And now I invite Treasury Secretary Mnuchin to give his remarks. Steven.
SECRETARY MNUCHIN: Good morning. It’s my honor to help launch this important event. Sheikh Mohammed al-Thani, Minister al-Emadi, Minister al-Kuwari, Ambassador al-Thani, and the entire Qatari delegation, thank you for being here today with Secretary Pompeo, Secretary Ross, and me. I would like to begin by thanking Qatar for making significant contributions to the coronavirus relief efforts around the world. We are grateful for your contribution to international efforts to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.
The U.S.-Qatar relationship is an important strategic relationship. I have been proud to further our cooperation during my time as Treasury Secretary. One of the last official trips I took before the pandemic was to Doha. Sheikh Mohammed al-Thani, Minister al-Emadi, and I had productive discussions on a range of issues, including shared economic opportunities, combatting terrorist activities, and other strategic opportunities. I especially enjoyed visiting our air base and touring Qatar’s natural gas platforms. I am eager to see this event build on that progress, particularly in the areas of investment cooperation and counterterrorism financing.
The United States and Qatar continue to enjoy a strong trade and investment relationship supported on both sides by open markets and a commitment to fair practices. Over the last five years Qatar has imported over $23 billion from the United States. Cross-border investment between our nations continue to grow, driven by policies that encourage business to make long-term investments.
Today, Qatar has invested over 30 billion in the U.S., and American companies have boosted investment to a total of 10 billion in Qatar. Qatar has improved its investment environment by recently passing a Public-Private Partnership Law that increases accessibility for foreign investors providing greater opportunities for American companies. The United States has a long-standing open investment policy, and the Trump administration is committed to making it the best place in the world to bring foreign capital.
The CFIUS process through which the government reviews certain foreign investments in the United States was recently strengthened and modernized. It focuses exclusively on restricting only those foreign investments that create a risk to national security. Your foreign investment will always be welcome in the United States.
To deepen these relationships further, Minister al‑Emadi and I will sign today an announcement of intent to support an investment forum in 2021. This event will facilitate the exploration of new investment opportunities for American and Qatari companies in the United States and Qatar. I am proud to say that United States and Qatar are more united than ever in our fight to abolish terrorism around the globe. It is critical that we continue to focus on cutting off terrorist financing.
We are pleased that Qatar increased its effort to ensure that terrorist financiers are no longer able to operate within its borders. The U.S. is willing to assist whenever we can so that these efforts become a sustained and enduring campaign. I am encouraged by Qatar’s continued commitment to strengthen its anti‑money laundering policies and increased information sharing and support for multilateral forums such as the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center.
This is a groundbreaking initiative to combat the full range of terrorist financing, including malign financial activity of the Iranian regime, which continues to sponsor terror across the Middle East. We value Qatar’s participation and we hope to see Qatar continue to get more involved with additional targets and participating in capacity building programs.
I am encouraged by the progress we have made in combating this and I look forward to sustaining and building these efforts. I’m confident these discussions we’ll have over the course of this event will result in policies that build our strong bilateral relationship and continue to promote prosperity and security of both of our nations. Thank you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Secretary Mnuchin. Now I invite Finance Minister al-Emadi to give his remarks.
MINISTER AL-EMADI: Thank you, Secretary. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Secretary Pompeo, Secretary Mnuchin, Secretary Ross, thank you very much for your warm receptions. We are delighted to be here with you all to attend the third annual Qatar‑U.S. Strategic Dialogue. We are confident that today’s session will build on what we have accomplished in the past dialogues in all – in all front.
The United States is one of our most important economic partners, and we look forward to our discussion on how we can further deepen and expand this relation. Our economic and investment activities with the United States have only risen since our inaugural event in 2018, targeting diverse sectors such as aviation, oil and gas, and defense, to name a few. Today, we will further strengthen the partnership by exploring a new economic and investment framework to four-star sustainable growth between our two countries.
The relationship between Qatar and the U.S. is not only defined by the volume of trade and investment but also by its common objectives in combating terrorism and terrorism financing. We are very much proud of a great progress that made by Qatar and Qatar-U.S. joint committee toward combating terrorism financing and money laundering. We aim to continue to make a significant progress in our relationship to – by identifying new opportunities, strengthen partnership, and creating more jobs.
Since the first investment forum that Qatar held in the United States in 2011, we are pleased to announce today by signing a Letter of Intent together with the Treasury Department to host again an investment forum by joining an organized Qatar in 2021. This forum will be an effective venue for strengthening investment relation between our two countries. I look forward – I look forward to the outcome of today’s discussion and furthering cooperation to benefit both our countries as partner, allies, and friend. Thank you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Minister al-Emadi. Now I invite Commerce Secretary Ross to give your remarks. Please.
SECRETARY ROSS: Thank you, Mike, for hosting today’s dialogue and for your incredible leadership on the breakthrough peace arrangements in the Mid-East. You’ve transformed the dynamics of the Middle East and have provided so many people with hope. My thanks also to His Excellencies al-Thani, al-Kuwari, al-Emadi, and Ambassador al-Thani. We are so pleased that you’re here to join these discussions. And a warm welcome also to my colleague, Steven Mnuchin.
I had the pleasure of visiting Doha last November at the invitation of Emir al-Thani. In our meetings, we considered ways to increase FDI in each other’s economies and we discussed the importance of our partnership in the semiconductor industry. I am pleased that the International Trade Administration is working with the Qatari Government on a virtual roundtable with U.S. semiconductor companies during this October’s Discover Global Markets meeting in Indianapolis.
Since my visit to Doha last year, our two countries have sustained a close bilateral economic relationship. The U.S. is the country’s largest foreign direct investor with a total of 110.6 billion U.S. FDI. And we are the largest single source of exports to the country at 6.5 billion in 2019. The energy sector continues to present excellent opportunities for U.S. companies. Your North Field mega LNG expansion project is set to increase natural gas production by 64 percent by 2027 from 77 million tons per year to 126 million.
U.S. companies are well positioned and eager to provide technical expertise, equipment, and construction services to your major LNG projects. The recently-announced Tawteen program combines three excellent ideas: vertical integration, inclusion of foreign investment, and access to technological expertise. It is a great model for the future. So is the planned huge ethane cracker at Ras Laffan.
While the global pandemic and low energy prices are creating uncertainty in many parts of the Middle East, we know that your country is resilient and can endure through difficult times. I witnessed this firsthand during my 2019 visit to Doha as the country was contending with the economic fallout caused by the regional blockade. Your entrepreneurial transformation of a sudden dairy product shortage into an air-conditioned and fully automated farm that made the country a net exporter is a wonderful and heroic achievement. And I echo Secretary Pompeo’s urgency that your country pursues normalized diplomatic and trade relations with its neighbors in the region.
Finally, I’m pleased to see Qatar taking steps to open its economy even further to foreign investment and innovation. In January last year, Emir al-Thani signed a new foreign investment law allowing foreign firms to have up to 100 percent ownership in all economic sectors except for banking and insurance. Moreover, this past June, the emir signed the public-private partnership, an important development resulting from the goals set forth in your Vision 2030 strategic plan.
This law is just the latest step in the country’s effort to promote economic diversification. To support that initiative, Commerce Department’s Commercial Law Development Program has provided regular training and consultation to your government officials responsible for drafting and implementing the law. The U.S. Government is committed to providing these kinds of resources in support of initiatives that deepen commercial ties between our two countries.
Thank you again for your devotion to our long-term bilateral relationship and friendship. I look forward to today’s discussions.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Wilbur, thank you, and now I invite Commerce Minister al-Kuwari to give his remarks.
MINISTER AL-KUWARI: Thank you. Thank you, Your Excellencies, Your Honorables. I would like to thank Secretary Pompeo and His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs, for giving me the opportunity to be here with you today at the third U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue. I would like also to thank Secretary Mnuchin for his remarks and Secretary Ross, whom we had fruitful discussions during his last visit to Doha in November last year, and also during the investment summit of SelectUSA, which we were unfortunately unable to attend this – June of this year due to the spread of COVID-19. It is, of course, an event that we look forward to take part every year.
And we are committed to continue working closely with Secretary Ross in the oil, bilateral investment, and trade issues. We will also be working very closely with Secretary Ross towards the success of the coming economic roadshow in the United States, which will target more diverse sectors to maximize our mutual economic benefits.
Our commercial attaches have been working closely with your team in the Department of Commerce aiming to further strengthen our bilateral commercial and trade relations. A private sector event hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and U.S.-Qatar Business Council will take place after this session where I will be honored to be in the company of Secretary Ross and Honorable Thomas Donohue, CEO of U.S. Chamber of Commerce, to further discuss bilateral trade issues and the role of private sector and how American companies can contribute and benefit from the opportunities and incentives offered by the Qatari economy.
Thanks to the efforts of both our teams, a well-prepared agenda with diverse topics will be discussed tomorrow during the commercial cooperation session. Both our experts teams from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the U.S. Trade Representative Office will also continue other bilateral trade discussions, which fall under the TIFA Agreements signed in 2004, between our countries over the coming days.
I would like to highlight the strong Qatar-U.S. partnership which will – which our robust commercial relationship is a key build-up to this partnership. Despite issues arising from the recent spread of COVID-19, our data shows significant trade volumes – value until last month, which is around 4.5 billion U.S. dollars from January to July only this year. Meanwhile, Qatar-U.S. trade relations expanding rapidly. The U.S. is Qatar leading source of imports, which have more than doubled since 2017. More than 850 U.S. companies now operate in Qatar and range of key industries.
And yet, despite all these strong ties, our relationship still has enormous potential for growth. As part of Qatar efforts to achieve economic goals laid in its National Vision 2030, we are creating a world-class environment for foreign investors. The year 2020 has been a major achievement for Qatar despite the significant challenges arising from the outbreak of COVID-19 virus which has disrupted supply chain and normal business operations around the globe.
Qatar has been at the forefront countries – forefront of countries across the region in enforcing measures to protect health and safety of its citizens and residents while embracing integrated strategy to bolster trade and economic activities with its partners around the world.
Since the pandemic’s outbreak, Qatar has maintained its commitment to a multi-trade – to a multilateral trading system and strengthened international cooperation framework to ensure continuative trade as the engine fit for economics recovery. In this context, Qatar has stepped up efforts to enhance its advanced budget, logistical networks, and to capitalize on its high quality infrastructure to consolidate its position as a regional and a global trade and investment hub.
Thank you, Your Excellencies.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Minister al-Kuwari. And now we will proceed with the signing of the MOUs.
MODERATOR: Secretary Pompeo and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs al-Thani are signing the U.S.-Qatar Statement of Intent establishing Qatar’s 2021 Year of Culture with the United States. This document declares the U.S. and Qatari Governments’ intention to cooperate to enhance cultural and art exchanges and people-to-people connections and advance mutual understanding and the shared ideals of tolerance and diversities.
(The document was signed.)
Secretary Mnuchin and Minister al-Emadi are now signing an Announcement of Intent to support an investment forum in 2021 in the United States which will facilitate the exploration of new investment opportunities for American and Qatari companies in the United States and Qatar.
(The document was signed.)
This concludes our opening remarks. Please stand by as the ministers depart.