Posted on January 29, 2015

Weak oil prices appears to have had its debilitating effect on Qatar with its trade surplus shrinking considerably in December in view of the sharp decline in exports coupled with robust import growth, according to official figures, said Gulf Times. The trade surplus of Qatar, which is fast powering its non-hydrocarbon segments as part of diversification, plummeted 32.8% year-on-year to QR22.75bn with plunging exports of crude, non-crude and natural gas, according to the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics (MDPS) data. The country's total exports (valued free-on-board) plunged 21.7% to QR33.84bn as shipments to China, Japan, the UAE and India fell faster. 

The MDPS, in its recent Qatar Economic Outlook 2014-16 Update, had cautioned that a prolonged weakening of oil prices could pose a key downside risk to the economic outlook. "The economic outlook for 2014-2016 is still generally favourable, although falling oil prices could be a key downside external risk if they persist for long," it said. Japan continued to be the top destination of Qatar's exports in December 2014, followed by South Korea, India, China and the UAE.

The country's total exports of domestic products sunk 22.1% to QR33.21bn in December. Qatar's non-crude exports plummeted 66.6% to QR0.82bn; crude by 41.8% to QR4.48bn and petroleum gases by 17.7% to QR22.76bn; even as exports of other commodities grew 6% to QR5.15bn. Petroleum gases and other gaseous hydrocarbons constituted 68.53% of total exports of domestic products in December 2014 against 64.83% in the year-ago period; crude petroleum oils 13.49% (18.03%), non-crude petroleum oils and bituminous minerals 2.47% (5.72%) and other commodities 15.51% (11.4%).

Qatar Airways Houston

On export destinations, Japan accounted for 26% of total exports in December, South Korea 20%, India 13%, China 9% and the UAE 4%. Qatar's exports to China tanked 40.54% to QR2.86bn; Japan by 39.67% to QR8.67bn; the UAE by 12.94% to QR1.48bn and India by 7.61% to QR4.37bn, while those to South Korea was up 4.73% to QR6.86bn during the review period. The country's re-exports had fallen 12.2% to QR0.64bn in December.

Total imports (valued at cost insurance and freight) grew 18.3% to QR11.1bn in December mainly on a substantial jump in shipments from Germany, the US, Japan, China and the UAE. The US, China, Germany, the UAE and Japan were among the top five destinations from where Qatar imported merchandise goods. The US and China accounted for 11% each of Qatar's imports in December, Germany 8% and the UAE and Japan 7% each.

Qatar's imports from Germany shot up 40.88% to QR0.83bn; the US by 40% to QR1.26bn; Japan by 31.66% to QR0.76bn; China by 23.96% to QR1.19bn and the UAE by 22.39% to QR0.82bn. Motor cars and vehicles, aircraft spare parts, light vessels, fire floats and other group commodities were mainly imported by Qatar in December 2014. The imports of motor cars and other motor vehicles for the transport of persons expanded 24% to QR1.13bn; aircraft spare parts by 49.4% to QR0.74bn and other commodities by 22.9% to QR8.81bn; while those of light vessels, fire floaters and dredgers fell 47.6% to QR0.42bn in December 2014.