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In Qatar Rift, Arab Bloc Won't Discriminate Against U.S. Firms: Reuters

In Qatar Rift, Arab Bloc Won't Discriminate Against U.S. Firms: Reuters
U.S. companies doing business with them would not be punished for also working with Doha, four Arab countries that imposed sanctions on Qatar have told the United States, reported Reuters citing information from four sources with knowledge of the matter.
Due to concerns they could fall foul of the region's biggest diplomatic crisis in years, foreign firms have become increasingly cautious on their cross border dealings.
Reassuring that the U.S. companies would not be discriminated against as part of the boycott, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Bahrain sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in July, says Reuters quoting sources with knowledge of the letter.
The EU Delegation to the UAE told the media that the European Union has been given similar "official ... verbal assurances" by the UAE.
According to a source who has seen the letter, ties with the U.S. would not be affected by the boycott and in the letter to Tillerson, the four countries said that they valued and intended to maintain their relationships with U.S. companies.
There were no comments about the letter from the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi as well as any of the representative from the four Arab states mentioned in the letter.
Tillerson met both sides of the dispute and made proposals to help end the crisis during his four-day visit to the region in July.
Suspending air and shipping routes with the world's biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas and the home to the region's biggest U.S. military base, the four Arab countries cut diplomatic and trade links with Qatar on June 5.
The UAE would not ask foreign companies to choose between doing business with it or Qatar, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said on July 17.
Comments that companies could be made to choose as part of a new round of sanctions on Qatar by UAE Ambassador to Russia Omar Ghobash to Britain's Guardian newspaper on June 28 followed that statement.
There are big contracts to be won in wealthy Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar as top U.S. companies have large investments in countries on both sides of the dispute. And during U.S. President Donald Trump's visit to Riyadh in May, business deals worth tens of billions of dollars with U.S. companies was signed by Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter.
Doha, which will host the 2022 World Cup, is seeking partners to take part in a huge expansion of its gas production and state-owned airlines in the UAE and Qatar are leading customers of U.S. planemaker Boeing.
In a bid to avoid any conflict, and with the intention that Qatar no longer reports to their regional headquarters, often located in Dubai, some companies have taken steps to restructure their Middle East operations.
No known incidents of a U.S. company being discriminated against by the four Arab countries because of the dispute with Qatar have bene reported so far, said one of the sources.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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