Qatar, which has maintained fiscal integrity and allowed its central bank to grow reserves amidst the Covid-19, is undergoing "unparalleled recovery", thus helping it outperform the regional peers, according to a top official of the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC).

"Our economy is currently experiencing unparalleled recovery with significant expansion over the last four months. This has been predominantly due to the new business orders," QFC managing director (Business Development) Sheikha Alanoud bint Hamad al-Thani told the second Qatar Trade Summit, which got underway here on Tuesday.

The output and new business continued to register growth as firms reported operations returning to normal, following the lockdown, and the reopening of industrial areas, said the QFC's latest Purchasing Managers’ Index.

The latest figure signalled sustained improvement in business conditions in the non-energy private sector segment of the economy and was the third-highest figure in over two years, she said.

"The recent trend in the data is consistent with a decline in gross domestic product or GDP of 4.6% in the second quarter, followed by a strong rebound of 4.3% in the third quarter," Sheikha Alanoud said, adding the performance of Doha’s non-energy private sector is an affirmation of the Covid-19 stimulus package.

The Supreme Committee for Crisis Management (for combating Covid-19) has announced a huge QR75bn stimulus package to the private sector.

The package included measures to provide business continuity, she said, adding the customs duty of food and medicines was exempted and there was also payment holiday for the utilities and rent.

“This has assisted in maintaining fiscal integrity and allowed central bank reserves to grow in 2020,” Sheikha Alanoud said.

The state budget, factoring in the sluggish gas prices, has been instrumental in enhancing the efficiency in the public sector, which in turn assured continuous investments in health, education and major infrastructure projects, according to her.

Highlighting that the implementation of various measures led to lower than expected deficit; she said, “In the long run, our projections carry further weight because the state budget is based on conservative oil price assumption of $40 a barrel.”

However, a Goldman Sachs report expects Brent crude to reach $65 a barrel in the third quarter of 2021, although it could end the year lower, at $58 a barrel.

Qatar Free Zone Authority deputy chief executive Abdulla al-Misnad said Qatar's world-class logistics infrastructure ensures global connectivity.

Stressing that autonomous vehicles are the future transportation solution; he said there was a need for infrastructure enhancement as well as strong regulatory framework and legislation.

Infrastructure, he said, should include the availability of strong 5G Internet connectivity and coverage; the installation of robust sensing equipment for seamless vehicle to infrastructure connectivity and the availability of charging stations.

Anders Lund Kristensen, executive vice president (Maritime and Logistics), Milaha, said Qatar at present has an expanded network into the Upper Gulf, South East Asia, Black Sea and Mediterranean; indicating strong direct links with multiple countries and alternate sources of imports.

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