DUBAI // Commercial diplomacy between the US and the Gulf region could lead to closer links between small and medium enterprises, a senior US business lobbyist said yesterday. Joint ventures in oil and gas, health care, information technology infrastructure and banking could all be announced within the next three months. "Defence and aerospace joint ventures are also on top of our agenda," said Morris Reid, the managing director of BGR Group and a former aide to the Clinton administration. He is visiting GCC countries along with a delegation of American entrepreneurs.
"We are here to give GCC governments and business leaders a taste of new players in the Obama regime," he said. The delegation has held a series of meetings with business leaders and senior government officials in Qatar and Dubai. "There is an openness and willingness in the US to do business with the GCC," he said. "America needs to wake up to the reality that 80 per cent of the world lives outside its border."
Mr Reid is scheduled to meet executives of government-owned funds, private and public firms and senior government officials to push the possibility of joint ventures in defence and aerospace, and oil and gas sectors. On the role of sovereign wealth funds and the outflow of investments from the GCC to the US markets, Mr Reid said he did not expect the investments to grow significantly during the next two years.
"My estimate is that the US economy will take at least 30 months to turn the corner. When the US economy turns, the rest of the world turns as well and this is when we will see investments coming back to the US," he said. However, the US will have to wake up to the reality that business is a two-way street and the GCC cannot continue to be the cash register for the rest of the world, he said. "Frankly, it will still be a source of capital and liquidity but the emphasis, as it has been in the past, to get the capital and get out, has to be changed," he said. "Now is the time to start business and get on Obama's radar."