The US-Qatar Business Council arranged a luncheon and discussion with Dr. R. Seetharaman, CEO of Doha Bank. The luncheon was held at Washington DC’s Ristorante La Perla on 15th October 2013 and was attended by Council members and distinguished guests from the finance community. Ambassador Theros gave a warm welcome to Dr. R. Seetharaman, noting their long relationship and Dr. Seetharaman’s continued support for the Council’s efforts both in Qatar and the US.
Speaking on the occasion Dr. R.Seetharaman explained the current scenario prevailing in the global economy with focus on US economy. He said “IMF’s World Economic Outlook update, Oct 2013 forecasts that the global economy would grow at 2.9% in 2013. US economy outlook has been revised down to 1.6% for 2013.Emerging economies growth has been brought down to 4.5% from earlier forecast of 5% for 2013 with growth brought down in all emerging economies. The continuing uncertainty about the US budget and debt ceiling is impacting international markets. The US debt limit is currently at almost 17 trillion dollars. If the worst happens, International markets could collapse and the course of the dollar could go into free-fall, as could the attractiveness of US government bonds. Rating agencies would automatically have to downgrade the credit rating of the United States.”
Dr. R. Seetharaman explained current trends in GCC economies. He said “According to IMF data, Oct 2013, The GCC GDP at current prices is expected to exceed $1.6 trillion in 2013 and the current account balance as % of nominal GDP can exceed 20% in 2013. The high oil prices have enabled GCC to generate considerable fiscal surplus thereby substantially improving its balance of payments position which has further enabled this visionary state to invest wisely on various industrial, infrastructural projects and overseas investments.”
Dr. R. Seetharaman while explaining on State of Qatar’s emergence as a role model for transformation on economic and social fronts said “State of Qatar will continue to follow the true principles of globalization. Qatar’s National Vision 2030 builds on a society that promotes justice, benevolence and equality. Qatar’s gross domestic product (GDP) will grow at 5.3% in 2013. Growth will continue apace in the non-oil and gas economy. Growth in the non-oil and gas economy will be 9.8% in 2013, rising to 10.3% in 2014.”
Dr. R. Seetharaman gave insights on bilateral trade and development between GCC and US. He said “The trade between GCC and US has increased from US$71.1 Billion in 2010 to US$123.7 Billion in 2012 with a surge close to 74%.The total imports by GCC from US increased from US$31.5 Billion in 2010 to US$49.7B in 2012. The total exports by GCC to US increased from US$39.6 Billion in 2010 to US$74 B in 2012.There has been surge in trade from all GCC countries in 2012 over 2010 except Oman. The United States is exploring the development of a Trade and Investment Cooperation Agreement with the GCC. In Jan 2013 Ministry of Interior of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (MOI) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have signed an arrangement to begin implementation trusted traveler programs. In May 2013 the United States and Saudi Arabia signed bilateral air service agreement that will expand commercial service for shippers and travelers. United States-Oman Free Trade Agreement (FTA) signed in January 2009.”
Dr. R. Seetharaman gave insights on bilateral trade and development between Qatar and US. He said “Qatar’s trade with US has increased from US$ 3.62B in 2010 to US$ 4.61B in 2012 on account of surge in imports from US. US is Qatar’s top import partner and largest investor in Qatar. US Investments in Qatar have crossed $100 billion with most of the investments being done in the hydrocarbon sector. In Sept 2010 Golden Pass LNG terminal in the US was set for commissioning. In April 2011 Qatar airways boosted fleet with 5 Boeing 777 Aircraft worth US $ 1.4 B .In June 2011 Qatar airways and Boeing announced order for 6 Boeing 777 Airplanes valued at $1.7 B . In June 2013 Qatar Airways has signed an agreement to buy up to nine Boeing 777-300ER aircraft valued at $2.8 billion.US firms are looking at opportunities in IT, logistics, food and beverages, event management, hospitality and other sectors in Qatar. In Sept 2013 the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee and the Qatar National Food Security Programme joined with former US President Bill Clinton to announce Qatar’s Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action to use the power of international sport to develop innovative food and water security solutions. “