Blockade helped Qatar unlock its real potential: Minister Al Kuwari

H E Ali bin Ahmed Al Kuwari, Minister of Commerce and Industry, stated yesterday that the blockade imposed on Qatar by the Arab quartet has turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Qatar as it helped the country reinvent its real potential. The blockade was instrumental in the country’s economic openness and striking a series of fresh trade deals. Qatar successfully established direct commercial routes with a number of strategic hubs around the world and trade has been diverted to major global partners, he said.

Delivering the Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMU-Q) Dean’s Lecture Series yesterday, the Minister said Qatar’s total exports and foreign trade witnessed noticeable growth during the post-blockade period. Total exports of the country increased by 18 percent to QR244bn in 2017 in comparison to 2016 (QR207.6bn), and increased by 25 percent in 2018 (QR306bn) compared to 2017.

Foreign merchandise trade surplus stood at QR13.2bn in July 2019. Total exports of the country increased by 18 percent to QR244bn in 2017 in comparison to 2016 (QR207.6bn), and increased by 25 percent in 2018 (QR306bn) compared to 2017.

The country’s trade balance surged by nearly 49.9 percent in 2017, rising from QR91.7bn in 2016 to QR137.5bn in 2017; and an increase by 39.2 percent in 2018 (QR191.4bn) in comparison to 2017.

GDP grew to QR808bn in 2017,, compared with QR793.5bn in 2016, at an annual growth rate of 1.6 percent; reaching to QR821bn in 2018, with an annual growth rate of 1.5 percent.

The Minister said Qatar is mobilising its regional agreements with Kuwait, Iraq, Oman, turkey, Pakistan, India, Azerbaijan, Iran plus Central Asia to bolster its trade activities with the establishment of an expanded sea fleet. Such expansion connects Qatar with its major sea and land trading partners around the world.

During the blockade, Qatar Airways continued its expansion, introducing 29 new destinations. The capacity of of Hamad Port reached 7.5 million containers of oil annually. It is one of the largest ports in the Middle East by grabbing a 27 percent share of regional trade volume.

Qatar’s ports posted an annual record concerning their performance during 2018 with reflecting a growth in all the segments with 200 percent growth in number of vessels in 2018 (4,781 vessels) comparison to 1,592 vessels in 2017, and YTY growth in 2017 of 500 percent in comparison to 2016 (252 vessels).

Hamad Port registered an overall constrainer growth of 71 percent in 2018 over 2017. Having commenced commercial operations in December 2016 as a brand new port, Hamad Port achieved this milestone in just 25 months from the start of operations.

The ports in Qatar handled 218,330 tonnes of building materials in January-June period of this year, compared to 177,000 tonnes in the same period last year, showing a growth of around 24 percent. The ports received around 661,331 containers in the first half of 2019, which is around 2.5 percent more than the same period of last year.

The post-blockade witnessed the country adopting many food security initiatives to make the country self-sufficient. More than 500 greenhouses with a total area of 280,000sqm have been added to the existing capacity of local farms since the siege against Qatar began. The economists Intelligence Unit’s “Global food security Index” has ranked Qatar 22nd in the world and first in the Arab world, moving up from 26th in 2017.

The Minister said the country’s real GDP in 2019 is expected to reach 2.9 percent, with a robust growth in the non-hydrocarbon sector. Over the course of 2020-2023, the IMF projects real GDP growth at about 2.7 percent annually in Qatar.

Source from: The Peninsula