On March 10, 2019, Qatar’s Minister of Commerce and Industry publicly stated that the country’s trade surplus reached $52 billion in 2018.
This is a noteworthy economic achievement despite the economic and diplomatic blockade enacted by Qatar’s neighbors. This will bolster Qatar’s international standing and economic appeal as a safe and lucrative destination for investors. In essence, Qatar is telling the world that business is carrying on as usual.
When economic and diplomatic ties were severed between Qatar and the coalition of countries that implemented the blockade measures, which cut the country’s access to an estimated of 60% of imported goods, Qatar expanded its trade relations with existing partners. A concrete example would be with Pakistan. Speaking at a forum on Qatar-Pakistan trade, Minister Ali Al Kuwari declared that trade between the two countries grew over 230% in 2019 to $2.6 billion. Trade with Iran and Turkey has also increased; furthermore, Doha is also seeking partnerships with Western countries, including an open-skies agreement with the EU.
Additionally, Qatar’s Financial Center Authority CEO, Mohamed Al Jaida also spoke at the forum citing Qatar’s efforts to diversify the economy and to heavily invest in the New Emerging Belt Initiative (NEBI) targeting investments in countries like Oman, India, Turkey, and Pakistan. He went to state that Pakistan was the 13th largest trading partner to Qatar and that a $16 billion trade deal was signed to deliver LNG to Pakistan until 2030.
Most notably, the IMF noted on May 18, 2018, that Qatar’s growth performance has remained resilient to the external shocks caused by blockade. However, Qatar’s energy sector, specifically, its LNG exports, have helped the country in alleviating the economic pressures stemming from the blockade. In fact, IMF confidently estimated a 3.1% growth in 2019 for Qatar.