Qatari non-oil exports set to exceed pre-blockade levels: QDB official

Doha: Qatar, which is intensifying its economic diversification efforts, is set to exceed the value of its pre-blockade non-oil exports, an official from the Qatar Development Bank (QDB) has said.

While exports figures for 2019 have not yet been released, data from the Qatar Chamber (QC) showed that the country’s non-oil exports increased by 35.1 percent to QR24.4bn in 2018 compared to the QR18.05bn recorded in 2017.

According to Khalid Abdulla Al Mana (pictured), Executive Director of Business Finance at QDB, as many as 326 non-hydrocarbon small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) participated with the bank’s international exhibitions last year. The value of exports by these SMEs reached QR1.6bn until September 2019. Before the blockade, the value of exports could reach up to around QR2.5bn, he added.

“We’re getting close to where we were before the blockade and maybe we will exceed this. After the blockade we lost three markets around us and this decreased our exports. But now, with the opening of new foreign markets and the opening of different factories in Qatar, exports have increased,” Al Mana said while talking to The Peninsula on the sidelines of a QC event in Doha recently.  He added that QDB sees a growing number of SMEs in its programmes.

“We have 36 factories in Jahiz 1 and Jahiz 2 that are starting to come into production. We have food, plastic, pharmaceutical, and several other products from Qatar that are coming out. Qatari products are now displayed in supermarkets not only in Qatar but in other countries as well, such as in Oman,” he said.

Aside from the country’s growing exports market, local demand for Qatari products has also been on the rise, said Al Mana.

“We provide several programmes for the SMEs, such as matchmaking events and financial benefits to support the exporters in increasing their trade volume. It’s important for us to export non-hydrocarbon products which makes good diversification for Qatar. And we need to promote economic diversification for better economy,” he added.

The QDB, which opened new markets for Qatari SMEs in Africa and Iraq last year, after finding huge demand for Qatari products in those countries, will open five to six new markets for its exporters this year, said Hamad Salem Mejegheer, Executive Director of Export Development & Promotion at QDB.

He added: “We are looking for new markets to diversify our exports destinations. And this year we’ll open around five to six new markets for our Qatari exporters. There is focus on Africa. We found that there is big demand in the construction sector in East Africa which is undergoing development. This is going to be a big market for us, especially our price and shipping cost is really competitive with other companies. For food exports, as we will be a food exporting hub in the future, we found there is huge demand as well for manufactured Qatari food products in North African and East African countries. But mainly in the region, Oman and Kuwait are really good markets for our products due to less shipping costs,” Mejegheer added.

To further promote Qatari products in foreign markets, ‘Made in Qatar 2020’, which will showcase over 200 Qatari SMEs, will open in Kuwait from February 19-22. Various Qatari products such as plastics, aluminum, steel, electronics, paper, rubber, food, spices, textiles, perfumes, and others will be promoted during the event, said Mohamed Ali Al Jalahma, Export Trade Finance Manager at QDB.

Source from: The Peninsula