Gulf Business Councils Host Joint Event with Under Secretary Hormats
On February 23, 2012, the U.S.-Saudi Arabian Business Council, the U.S.-Qatar Business Council, and the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council hosted a luncheon featuring keynote remarks by The Honorable Robert Hormats, Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment, at the W Hotel in Washington, D.C. on Thursday. The event attracted approximately 170 officials from the United States Government, officials from Middle East and North Africa (MENA) embassies, academics, and business executives representing companies with commercial interests in the MENA region.
Danny Sebright, President of the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council welcomed guests on behalf of Ambassador Patrick Theros, President and Executive Director of the U.S.-Qatar Business Council, and Edward Burton, President and Managing Director of the U.S.-Saudi Arabian Business Council. In his opening remarks, Sebright commended the State Department for its renewed focus on promoting American business interests abroad and working to increase U.S. exports to create and sustain jobs in America. He applauded Under Secretary Hormats’ personal commitment to the initiative and his understanding of the key role American trading partners in the Middle East will play in the effort.
Following the welcome remarks, Burton took the stage to introduce the keynote speaker. In his introduction, Burton praised Under Secretary Hormats for his leadership in promoting the State Department’s “Economic Diplomacy” initiative. He cited Under Secretary Hormats’ extensive experience in both the public and the private sector as evidence of his commitment to navigating the nascent State Department economic programs and to developing a framework for increased investment, trade, and economic dialogue with key trading partners in the Gulf; namely Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.).
In his off-the-record remarks, Under Secretary Hormats provided attendees with insights into the Administration’s initiatives for American economic development and promotion overseas. He focused on the commercial viability and significant trade and investment partnerships that exist between the U.S. and Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the U.A.E; respectively. Under Secretary Hormats stressed that each country is working to diversify its economy and that several of the sectors selected for development provide excellent potential for commercial partnership and investment with American companies.
“I commend the great work that the U.S.-Qatar Business Council, the U.S.-Saudi Arabian Business Council, and the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council do to promote bilateral trade and investment between America and three of our closest trading partners in the Middle East,” said Hormats. “The U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council, in particular, was instrumental in supporting our successful efforts to establish the U.S.-U.A.E. Economic Policy Dialogue (EPD) earlier this year.”
The event occurred on the heels of the State Department’s Global Business Conference and Under Secretary Hormats’ recent trip to the Gulf where he signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the U.A.E.’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to establish the formal EPD between the U.S. and U.A.E. According to the State Department, the first meeting of the Economic Dialogue will occur in March when Francisco Sánchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, travels to the Middle East.