November 27, 2017 / 3:47 PM / a year ago

Qatar import growth turns positive as sanctions impact fades

    By Andrew Torchia
    DUBAI, Nov 27 (Reuters) - Qatar's imports rose from a year
earlier in October for the first time since other Arab states
imposed sanctions on Doha in June, official data showed on
Monday, suggesting damage done to the Qatari economy by the
sanctions is fading.
    Monthly imports plunged by as much as 40.0 percent
year-on-year after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates,
Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar
in June, accusing it of backing terrorism, which Doha denies.
    The boycott disrupted Qatar's shipping routes through the
Gulf and blocked imports across its land border with Saudi
Arabia. Much of its perishable food products as well as
construction materials came across that border.
    But Qatar, the world's largest liquefied natural gas
exporter, responded by developing its port facilities and
establishing new shipping routes via Oman and the Indian
subcontinent, and October's data indicated that Doha's ability
to import most goods had returned to normal.
    Imports jumped 11.2 percent from a year ago to 12.3 billion
riyals ($3.4 billion); they increased 52.9 percent from the
previous month. Auto imports remained 27.0 percent below
year-earlier levels in October because Qatar can no longer buy
car parts from Dubai, the region's trans-shipment centre for
parts, but most other imports were at normal levels.
    The sanctions have accelerated a sharp downturn in Qatar's
real estate market and slashed prices in the stock market. Banks
have come under financial pressure as depositors from the four
Gulf states have pulled out their money. 
    But the sanctions have not significantly disrupted Qatar's
exports, which jumped 11.9 percent from a year ago to 21.0
billion riyals in October. Its trade surplus expanded 12.9
percent to 8.7 billion riyals.
     Official data released last week showed Qatar's industrial
production grew 7.4 percent from a year earlier in September.
That was partly because of 8.3 percent growth in the natural gas
and petroleum sector, but manufacturing rose 3.2 percent.
    Food manufacturing jumped 23.5 percent as the government
responded to the sanctions by encouraging companies to make
Qatar more self-sufficient in food.

 (Reporting by Andrew Torchia, editing by Ed Osmond)
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