Qatar’s economy is expected to witness a growth of 3% in the upcoming year in spite of the crisis, according to Minister of Finance HE Ali Sherif al Emadi.
The minister who was speaking at the Euromoney Qatar Conference in Doha, said that the economy has shown resilience by remaining a dominant player in the global energy market.
He stressed that Qatar did not single miss a single oil and gas shipment despite siege and delivered to the customers.
“Qatar has proved it again that it is one of the most trusted suppliers of LNG in the global market. We are still supplying gas to one of the blockading countries that meets 40 percent of its energy requirement. We never used energy as a weapon to deal with the situation. They are happy with our supply and we are happy with their money,” the minister said.
The minister said that the country has taken various measures to support the non-hydrocarbon sector. He said the state budget for 2018 will focus on developing local industries and the private sector as the country works to make itself self-sufficient in the face of the boycott.
Even though there is a rise in oil prices, Emadi said, the budget will have a conservative approach for 2018 on oil price of $45 a barrel.
Emadi said the government would use subsidies to develop some of the vital sectors like food, health and industry to boost growth.
“Our main focus is to achieve self-sufficiency in food products, especially dairy products. We are marching ahead with our goal to be wholly self-sufficient in dairy products by June next year,” he said.
He also announced that the country launched a major poultry farming project last week to meet local demand. “We will soon announce the details of the project,” he said.
The minister added that more than 50 countries would be established in Qatar next year to boost manufacturing sector.
“Even if our neighbours continue with the siege, we still have a market of over 2 billion people within four hours of air travel. We can cater to these markets,” he said.
Commenting on the country’s financial health, Emadi said the government and the central bank have deposited billions of dollars in local banks to insulate them from withdrawals during the boycott.
“This is not something which is new. We did it during the 2009 crisis to support our banking sector. If we see a systematic risk in the financial system, we will make sure the government intervenes,” he said.
The minister explained that QIA would continue to invest surplus money in long term assets and stay active in global markets. As far the domestic market is concerned, the minister said, the ministry of finance and the Qatar Central Bank would ensure that it remains healthy.
He said that QIA investment in prime assets like Harrods department store Volkswagen, London’s Shard skyscraper is generating great returns.
Speaking on the occasion, a senior official of Qatar National Bank said that there was no net outflows of funds from Qatar’s banking sector in November.
“Outflows from banks have decreased in recent months as Gulf depositors have run out of remaining funds to withdraw, and as Qatari banks have found new sources of foreign money,” the official said.
The official also predicted the non-hydrocarbon sector of Qatar’s economy to grow 4.5% this year.