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Sluggish July imports in Qatar show sanctions still hurting economy

Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain cut diplomatic, transport ties with Qatar on June 5

Reuters  |  Dubai 

Illustration photo of a map of Qatar. Photo: Reuters
Illustration photo of a map of Qatar. Photo: Reuters

Qatar's recovered only slightly in July after plunging in June, government data released on Thursday showed, suggesting the country's is still suffering from sanctions imposed by other states.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and cut diplomatic and transport ties with on June 5, accusing of supporting terrorism, which it denies.

The closure of the Saudi border with and disruption to shipping routes via the slashed Qatar's by 37.9 per cent in June compared with May, forcing to scramble to arrange new shipping routes and import some goods by air.

Thursday's figures showed is still far from restoring its to normal. recovered by only 6.3 per cent month-on-month to 6.24 billion riyals ($1.71 billion) in July; they were 35 per cent below their level in July 2016.

Much of the disruption appears to be to big-ticket items. of aircraft parts were down 40.5 per cent from a year ago at 292 million riyals in July. The diplomatic crisis has deprived Airways of two of its biggest markets, and the

Incoming shipments of equipment and building materials for Qatar's big infrastructure projects may also have slowed in some cases. of gas turbines dropped 19.8 per cent from a year ago to 328 million riyals.

Many dairy products and other perishable foods used to be imported across the Saudi border. Although there are no reports of food shortages in Qatar, disruption to appears to be pushing up food and drink prices, which rose 4.2 per cent in July from June, data released last week showed.

Thursday's trade figures suggested the sanctions are not affecting Qatar's natural — July exports of petroleum gases and other rose 7.8 per cent from a year ago — and are no longer slowing other exports much.

As a result, Qatar's trade surplus expanded 78.1 per cent from a year earlier to 11.91 billion riyals in July, although it edged down 4.8 per cent from the previous month.

Analysts think the sanctions damage should ease in coming months as new shipping routes develop. Navigation launched a direct Qatar-Turkey service this week after starting a container service to Kuwait last week; construction of a food processing and storage facility at Qatar's received $440 million of bank financing this week.

A Reuters poll of analysts published last month found them still expecting the Qatari to be one of the region's strongest performers in 2017 and 2018.

First Published: Thu, August 24 2017. 23:15 IST