The National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce (NUSACC), in partnership with the U.S. Department of State hosted here Thursday night the Second Annual U.S. Ambassadors Forum.
During the Forum, several U.S. Chiefs of Mission currently serving in the Middle East and North Africa shed light on the U.S. commercial relations with the region, particularly in the context of post-Arab Spring rebuilding, the Free Trade Agreements between the U.S. and five Arab nations, and the infrastructure projects now under way in a number of GCC countries, including Kuwait.
NUSACC President and CEO David Hamod said on this occasion "now in its second year, the U.S. Ambassadors Forum is one of our most prestigious events, particularly in light of the breadth of experience of these ambassadors, and the opportunities currently open to U.S. businesses in the MENA region." In his remarks before the Forum, Hamod stressed "in the world of technology, disruptiveness is key to innovation and opening up new markets. And so it will be with the Arab world.
He indicated that this is a part of the world where U.S. exports are roughly doubling every four years, expecting U.S. goods exports to the Arab world to reach USD 175 billion in 2018 and goods and services to reach USD 245 billion.
"Like other places around the globe, there are extremists in Middle East and North Africa. But the vast majority of the people in the Arab world have a deep appreciation for the United States," he said.
He reiterated that this event "is all about cooperation, about partnership between the U.S. and Arab world and between NUSACC and the U.S. Department of State." Meanwhile, U.S. Ambassador to Kuwait Matthew Tueller said during the Forum's panel on "Moving Downstream: Diversifying Away From Oil and Gas," that Kuwait's economy is growing rapidly and trade with U.S. has also grew.
He affirmed that Kuwait has some of the most "savvy, sophisticated businessmen investors in the region where their impact is felt well beyond Kuwait." "There are significant opportunities and as we work with U.S. companies to come to Kuwait " we see the companies succeed when they come in with patience and persistence," he remarked.
He stressed that the Kuwaiti market is a "sophisticated market," saying "they know value when they see it and they want to see the best." Tueller shed light on various opportunities in Kuwait, such as investment in infrastructure, in the field of medical care and health, also higher education, power and water as Kuwait "is set to become one of the region's most active power and water projects markets in 2014," and the "highest priority" for Kuwaiti nationals which is housing, according to a number of surveys conducted in Kuwait.
For her part, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Anne Patterson told the Forum that the U.S. has a "broad and deep relationship of trust and close consultation with countries of the region." She voiced hope that this event would lead "to action that will enhance regional trade and investment to spur economic growth and job growth." She stressed that political instability has become a "significant feature" across the Middle East in recent years "as people, especially young people, demand a greater say in the shaping of their destinies." "The U.S. intends to be engaged across the region to help promote economic growth and expand trade and investment building ties between countries and cementing connection in the global economy," she remarked.
She noted "we want to see American firms fully engaged in the take off. This can only succeed if governments and businesses become partners in growth orientated reforms, creating a positive new cycle that will generate new opportunities." She affirmed that "the long term outlook for doing business in the Middle East is very promising. There is a huge youthful generation looking for new opportunities and new solutions." "Now is the time for American businesses to engage to be part of a new era of opportunities in the region," she added.
The Forum was divided into two panels, the first one focusing on "Economies in Transition: Looking Beyond the Arab Spring," while the second panel concentrated on "Moving Downstream: Diversifying Away From Oil and Gas." According to data recently analyzed by the Chamber, U.S. exports to the Arab world grew 7.51 percent in 2013, setting a new all-time record for the region of USD 70.85 billion, and being the fourth consecutive year of increased sales of U.S. goods to the region.
As in previous years, importing countries were led by GCC states. The GCC countries continue to drive U.S. exports to the region, accounting for 75.7 percent of total sales of goods to the 22 countries of the Arab world.
Kuwait, according to the analysis, retained its position on the "Top Five Arab Markets" for 2013, with total imports from the U.S. reaching USD 2.594 billion last year.