Qatar’s economy is growing despite a bitter trade and diplomatic rift with neighbouring former allies, the IMF said Wednesday after a week-long visit to the Gulf state.
The IMF predicted that real GDP would be above three per cent next year and stabilise annually at 2.7 per cent from 2020 until 2023, fuelled by gas exports, vast infrastructure projects and the hosting of football’s World Cup 2022.
“Qatar’s economic performance continues to strengthen,” read the IMF’s end-of-mission statement. “Significant fiscal and external buffers have enabled Qatar to successfully absorb the adverse shocks from the 2014-2016 decline in oil prices and the diplomatic rift.”
The IMF team visited Qatar from October 29 until November 4. Since 2017, former allies Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt have imposed a sweeping embargo on Qatar, accusing it of seeking closer ties with Iran and of supporting extremist groups.
Qatar denies the charges, accusing its neighbours of seeking regime change. The IMF also said that Qatar plans to introduce VAT “towards the end of 2019 or early 2020”.
This move has long been expected though the date has yet to be fixed. However, the IMF warned that Qatar could remain susceptible to the “economic and financial impact of global trade tensions”.
Qatar, the world’s leading exporter of liquefied natural gas, is undergoing a major transformation as it spends almost $500 million a week to prepare for the World Cup.
© Agence France-Presse