DUBAI (Reuters) - The value of Qatar’s imports rebounded sharply in August from July, government data showed on Wednesday, suggesting the economic impact of sanctions imposed by other Arab states is fading.
Imports plunged by over a third after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic and transport ties with Doha on June 5.
The sanctions - over accusations of supporting terrorism, which Doha denies - disrupted shipping routes to Qatar and closed its land border with Saudi Arabia, over which food and building materials were imported.
In August, however, imports jumped 39.1 percent to 8.68 billion riyals ($2.38 billion), the planning and statistics ministry said.
Imports were 7.8 percent below their year-earlier levels, but that still marked a major recovery from levels of June and July, when they dropped more than 35 percent year on year.
Since the diplomatic crisis erupted, Qatari companies and foreign shippers have sought to establish new shipping routes to Qatar via other countries including Oman, compensating for the loss of Dubai as a trans-shipment center.
Those efforts now appear to be bearing fruit.
Imports of large equipment recovered sharply in August after being slowed for a couple of months by the disruption to shipping routes.
Gas turbine equipment, some of it used in the production of natural gas, increased 76.5 percent from a year ago to 630 million riyals while aircraft parts surged 39.7 percent to 306 million riyals.
Motor vehicle imports continued to slump, however. They were down 57.8 percent from a year earlier at 267 million riyals.
This may have been caused by damage to domestic consumption and consumer sentiment in the wake of the crisis. The stock market has plunged and some analysts believe economic growth has slowed, although they do not predict a recession.
Qatar’s exports, the vast majority of them natural gas and oil, climbed 17.7 percent year-on-year to 21.30 billion riyals in August. As a result, its trade surplus expanded 45.4 percent to 12.62 billion riyals.
Reporting by Andrew Torchia; editing by John Stonestreet