Qatar says ‘Gulf cri­sis’ puts $2 bil­lion in con­tracts at risk

‘Sov­er­eign wealth fund un­af­fected’

Arab Times - - LOCAL/GULF -

DOHA, June 19, (AFP): The po­lit­i­cal cri­sis in the Gulf is putting at risk busi­ness deals worth $2 bil­lion in Arab coun­tries that have cut ties with Qatar, an eco­nomic of­fi­cial in the emirate said Mon­day.

Yousuf Mo­hamed al-Jaida, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Qatar Fi­nan­cial Cen­tre, said the ma­jor­ity of the con­tracts at risk — some $1.5 bil­lion (1.3 bil­lion eu­ros) — were in the area of con­struc­tion.

The level of ex­po­sure for busi­nesses from Saudi Ara­bia, the United Arab Emi­rates and Bahrain has been neg­a­tively im­pacted along­side that of Qatari busi­nesses in the cur­rent cri­sis.

“We sin­cerely be­lieve that the im­pact is re­gional, not only lo­cal,” Jaida told re­porters at a brief­ing in Doha.

“Qatar’s ex­po­sure to the block­ade coun­tries — the UAE, Saudi Ara­bia and Bahrain — is lim­ited. This is a fact,” he said in English.

“There’s very few Qatari com­pa­nies do­ing busi­ness in Saudi, UAE, Bahrain.

“There is on the other hand a cou­ple of bil­lion dol­lars of con­tracts of these block­ade coun­tries im­pacted in Qatar due to re­stric­tions in their own coun­tries,” he added.

Some $18-bil­lion in short-term de­posits held by Saudi, UAE and Bahraini banks would ma­ture in the next two months, but if the funds were with­drawn they could be “easily” cov­ered by the Qatari govern­ment, said Jaida.

The econ­o­mist said Qatar’s sov­er­eign wealth fund, worth some $335 bil­lion, was largely un­af­fected as it was mostly in­vested out­side the Gulf.

Saudi Ara­bia, the United Arab Emi­rates, Bahrain are among a string of coun­tries which this month cut ties with Qatar over ac­cu­sa­tions the emirate sup­ports ex­trem­ism. Doha de­nies the ac­cu­sa­tions. Gas-rich Qatar is cur­rently in the mid­dle of a mas­sive $200-plus bil­lion in­fra­struc­ture pro­gramme to help the coun­try to pre­pare for the 2022 foot­ball World Cup.

Im­ports from Saudi Ara­bia, the UAE and Bahrain, in­clud­ing con­struc­tion ma­te­ri­als and food, rep­re­sent about 14 per­cent of Qatar’s to­tal im­ports, said Jaida.

The cri­sis has forced Qatar to turn else­where for long-term trade part­ners, es­pe­cially those in Asia.

“We will con­tinue to ex­pand our global out­reach, es­pe­cially with Asia, which hap­pens to be our largest ex­port mar­ket,” said Jaida.

Im­ports from Asia ac­count for 32 per­cent of Qatar’s to­tal im­ports.

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