Qatar was the United States' 69th largest supplier of goods imports in 2018.
In early 2017, Qatar's total population was 2.6 million: 313,000 Qatari citizens and 2.3 million expatriates. The country has the highest per capita income in the world. Qatar is classified by the UN as a country of very high human development and is widely regarded as the most advanced Arab state for human development.Qatar is a high-income economy, backed by the world's third-largest natural gas reserves and oil reserves.
Low oil prices, regional unrest, and political turmoil around Qatar have had an extensive effect on trade, with U.S. exports decreasing from $4.9 billion in 2016 to $3.1 billion in 2017. Despite this, the U.S.-Qatar political, commercial, economic, and security relationship remains strong. U.S. companies still performed well in the market with awards in defense and other sectors, and even though the recent embargo on Qatar isolated the country from its Gulf neighbors, it has opened new opportunities for U.S. firms.
In June 5, 2017, the governments of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt severed diplomatic relations with the State of Qatar and imposed a series of economic restrictions, including shuttering the Saudi-Qatar land border, closing airspace to Qatari-registered aircraft, and limiting certain maritime traffic. Thus far, the impact on regional travel has been significant, with Qatar Airways forced to suspend all flights to the so-called Quartet countries and many regional airlines blocked by their governments from flying to and from Qatar (e.g., Emirates, Etihad, Saudia, Gulf Air). The movement of goods across land and sea borders has also been impacted. Qatar has moved quickly to establish other sources of imports and continues that effort, which may present new opportunities for American suppliers. Qatar has offset the loss of its former Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) trading partners by increasing trade with regional partners, notably Turkey, Oman, Kuwait, and India.
The U.S. Embassy in Doha and the U.S. Commercial Service are closely monitoring the situation and continue to provide guidance and support to U.S. companies wishing to enter the market as well as those already doing business in the country. U.S. companies are encouraged to engage directly with their local Qatari partners, representatives, or agents to ensure business continuity and alternatives for sourcing and shipping of U.S. goods into Qatar.
The government has undertaken several key measures, such as pledging to boost natural gas production by 30 percent, raising $12 billion in an April 2018 bond issuance in the international debt market, and enforcing tighter monetary controls to moderate inflation. Oil and gas continues to constitute the largest sector contributor to GDP at 48.5%, followed by construction at 17%, finance, insurance, and real estate at 14.7%, manufacturing at 8.4%, whole and retail trade at 7.4%, and transport and storage at 4.5%1.
The United States maintains a substantial trade surplus with Qatar, recorded at $1.9 billion in 2017, a decrease of $1.8 billion over 2016. U.S. exports to Qatar in 2017 decreased by 37 percent over the previous year to $3.1 billion. Corresponding U.S. imports from Qatar, mostly oil and gas, stood at $1.2 billion, without significant change from the previous year.
MISCELLANEOUS INVESTMENT FACTS
Qatar was the United States' 47th largest goods export market in 2018.
U.S. goods exports to Qatar in 2018 were $4.4 billion, up 41.6% ($1.3 billion) from 2017 and up 62.9% from 2008.
The top export categories in 2018 were: aircraft ($1.9 billion), electrical machinery ($631 million), machinery ($334 million), vehicles ($250 million), and arms and ammunition ($227 million).
U.S. total exports of agricultural products to Qatar totaled $133 million in 2018. Leading domestic export categories include: poultry meat & prods. (ex. eggs) ($21 million), live animals ($20 million), beef & beef products ($13 million), tree nuts ($11 million), and prepared food ($10 million).
Treaties & Agreements
Qatar and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization. Qatar is an observer to the Organization of American States and a member of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, the Gulf Cooperation Council, and the Arab League.
The Automotive industry continued to experience a slowdown in 2017, with a decline in sales estimated at 47% on average across all automotive brands.
While Japanese brands as Toyota, Nissan and Hyundai enjoy the largest market share (51% in 2017), American brands follow with an approximate market share of 12%. GMC, Cadillac, Chevrolet and Ford are among the most popular brands. Much of the population adopts motor vehicles for transportation. To that end the demand for spare parts has increased significantly in the past few years for all major players as people look to repair, modify or upgrade their vehicles.
High demand for used spare parts such as brake pads, transmission controls, AC functions, coolant, wipes and belts continue to prevail in 2017 because of the overall economic cycle. Demand for spare parts tends to increase substantially during the summer period in Qatar as many people tend to go on vacation using their vehicles preferring road trips to neighboring countries. As such, people purchase spare parts in sets and carry out the necessary vehicle checks and repairs before they leave for the summer. The reliance and demand for spare parts for motor vehicles is set to remain for the coming few years.
Demand for trucks and utility vehicles decreased in 2017 given the slowdown in construction activity. A majority of the local agencies focused on the “lease-to-own” model, catering to local companies’ limited capital expenditure capabilities. European brands continue to enjoy the highest market share with brands such as Mercedes Benz with the Actros model dominating the market, followed by MAN, IVECO and Renault. Nevertheless, aftermarket parts manufactured in the U.S. for European models are a major opportunity for U.S. suppliers. The demand for spare parts, car care products and accessories has likewise increased as the number of used vehicles has reached around 670,000 units. The number of medium and heavy duty trucks is in the neighborhood of 250,000 units.
Sub-Sector Best Prospects
Sports Utility Vehicles
Trucks, Vans and Buses
All-Terrain Vehicles (ATV), Utility Vehicles (UTVs)
Specialized trucks and vehicles
Car care products
Aftermarket parts, accessories, and spare parts
Tenders published by the different governmental institutions
Market penetration through appointment of distributors
Oil & Gas Field Machinery Equipment
The state of Qatar is the largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the world, and the country's exports of LNG, crude oil, and petroleum products provide the major portion of government revenues. Qatar's earnings from its hydrocarbons sector accounted for more than 50% of the country's total government revenues.
Qatar holds the third largest proven reserve of natural gas in the world after Russia and Iran, and the state company Qatar Petroleum (QP) manages all the processes. QP oversees the oil, gas, fertilizer, petrochemicals and refining operations in-country and has interests abroad. QP has developed the sector through key partnerships with international companies, promoting the transfer of knowledge as many foreign companies have invested in Qatar’s oil and gas sector specifically to purchase the natural gas or oil developed from these projects.
Qatar is shifting its strategy to increase its output of Gas-To-Liquid (GTL) products, specifically Naphtha. The Government of Qatar aims to increase exports of Naphtha by 3 million metric tons a year. Qatar has the capacity to do so thanks to its Pearl GTL plant which produces 140,000 b/d, the biggest plant of its kind in the world.
In May 2017, the 12-year moratorium on further developing the North Field was lifted. The project is expected to be completed within 5-7 years and is estimated to increase capacity by 10% to two billion cubic feet per day (cf/d); it will add 4000,000 barrels of oil to overall Qatar’s production. The country encourages foreign investments as well as private sector job opportunities.
Due primarily to Qatar Airways’ continued global growth strategy, especially with adding more routes to the United States (10 as of February 2017), Aviation is an active industry in Qatar for U.S. suppliers. Boeing and Gulf Stream dominate the market as result of the nature of their aircraft offerings, but other U.S. suppliers provide information technology, ground support equipment, and similar services to Qatar Airways Group and Hamad International Airport. Qatar Airways Group maintains one of the most rigorous approved vendor list and processes in Qatar.
Overview of Opportunities in Qatar
Relevant Industries to Focus On