Qatar merchandise trade balance may exceed $62.5bn in 2024: FocusEconomics
October 31 2019 09:36 PM

Qatar’s merchandise trade balance will scale up further and exceed $62.5bn in 2024, researcher FocusEconomics has said in a report.

This year, FocusEconomics has projected the merchandise trade balance to be nearly $42.8bn.

The country’s fiscal balance as a percentage of GDP is set to rise to 4.4% in 2024 from an estimated 2.2% this year, FocusEconomics said.

The current account balance (as a percentage of GDP) will be 5.4% in 2024 compared with 5.7% in 2019.

Qatar’s gross domestic product is expected to reach $242bn by 2024, it said. By the year-end, GDP may total $194bn.

Qatar’s economic growth in terms of nominal GDP will reach 4.8% in 2024 from 1.6% by the year-end.

The researcher said Qatar’s public debt will fall gradually until 2024, and is estimated to be 52.6% this year, 50% (in 2020), 47.7% (in 2021), 46.9% (in 2022), 45.4% (2023) and 43.9% (in 2024).

International reserves may exceed $39bn in 2024, from the current $36.4bn; FocusEconomics estimated it will cover 10.5 months of country’s imports by then.

The country’s inflation, the report noted, will be 1.9% in 2024 and -0.2% this year.

Qatar’s unemployment rate (as a percentage of active population) will remain a meagre 0.2% in 2024, unchanged from this year.

According to FocusEconomics, the economy contracted year-on-year in the second quarter, contrasting the first quarter’s modest acceleration. A steep fall in mining and quarrying output led the decline in economic activity, while the non- mining and quarrying sector also decreased, contrasting a robust Q1.

Turning to the third quarter, the economy seems to have strengthened: industrial production posted strong growth year-on-year in July and August due to higher crude petroleum and natural gas extraction, and increased manufacturing output.

That said, the non-oil sector PMI averaged lower in Q3 than in Q2, likely the result of depressed construction activity.

“The economy will likely gather momentum next year due to a stronger energy sector as the Barzan gas facility comes online and investment into the expansion of the North Field gas project picks up. Nevertheless, geopolitical tensions and volatile commodity prices remain downside risks to the outlook,” FocusEconomics said.

The researcher’s panellists see growth of 2.5% in 2020, which is unchanged from last month’s forecast, and 2.8% in 2021.

Consumer prices increased 0.1% in annual terms in September, up from August’s flat outturn. Inflation should accelerate next year as the “expected implementation” of a 5% VAT in January 2020 will add upward pressure, it said.

Moreover, recent signs of a recovery in the housing market and an expected pick-up in economic activity should also stoke prices next year, the researcher noted.

Its panellists expect average consumer prices to increase 1.9% in 2020, which is down 0.1 percentage points from last month’s forecast. In 2021, FocusEconomics sees inflation easing to 1.4%.

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