Qatar’s diversification efforts are bearing results with the non-hydrocarbon sector driving real GDP growth from 2015 to 2017, Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) Authority CEO Yousuf Mohamed al-Jaida said.
“One of the biggest beneficiaries out of this crisis is the diversification efforts of the entire country,” said al-Jaida, who delivered a presentation at a knowledge-sharing forum held recently in Doha.
“I believe efforts towards diversification will only magnify, if not, skyrocket. I think the government will definitely enforce all diversification measures and efforts in a much more expedient and faster manner,” he continued.
The QFC Authority chief also noted that Qatar’s non-hydrocarbon GDP growth “will continue,” even as he stressed that the Gulf crisis did not impact hydrocarbon revenues of the country.
“We continue to generate investment income globally and not regionally. A lot of the investments in the QIA (Qatar Investment Authority) portfolio happen to be global investments; so we don’t see any impact in terms of investment income,” al-Jaida said.
He said Qatar’s resilience is further supported by diversification of central government revenues and the growing private sector.
Figures in al-Jaida’s presentation showed private sector contributed 31% of Qatar’s GDP in 2014 with total amounts of over $66bn, and stressed that “private sector contribution to GDP will continue increasing from 2016 to 2018.”
Al-Jadia also pointed out that Qatar’s “prudent macro-economic measures resulted in a robust economy.”
“Our macro-economic situation has always been the fastest amongst the GCC countries. From 2005 to 2015, we’ve grown at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14%. And despite the crisis, 2017 and 2018 will witness growth in GDP levels,” he emphasised.
Speaking on the country’s fiscal balance sheet, al-Jaida said the QFC believes that 2017 “will witness a fiscal surplus despite the crisis.” On current account surpluses, he said “crisis or no crisis, we will continue to have current account surpluses in 2017 and 2018, all the way to 2020.”
Despite the economic blockade imposed on Qatar by Saudi Arabia and its allies, al-Jaida said the country “will definitely emerge stronger,” and cited factors like food security and self-sufficiency efforts, legal and business, as well as immigration reforms, and the opening of new markets and free zones.
According to al-Jaida, food security and self-sufficiency “are going to be the most prioritised items on the government’s agenda.”
“I think we’re going to witness major legal and business reforms, and we’ve listened to the speech of His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani who had emphasised on diversification and the need to open up the business environment; and that only means more quick and efficient reforms,” he said.
He added: “We see expediting efforts towards a free zone in the Hamad Port, and I believe from discussions we’ve had from officials in the government that we’re looking to set up a free zone within no longer than six months.”