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Country Forecast Qatar March 2018 Updater

Country Forecast Qatar March 2018 Updater

  • March 2018
  • ID: 5365375

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  • The position of the emir will be weakened in 2018-20 by the boycott of Qatar by four of its Arab neighbours. The risks may also be relevant to the remainder of the forecast period if the boycott affects the welfare of Qatari citizens-which could ignite some domestic opposition to the emir's rule.
  • Qatar will continue to maintain a network of controversial and contradictory relationships in the Middle East that will exacerbate existing diplomatic tensions. Deep mutual distrust between Qatar and its neighbours means that Qatar is unlikely to downgrade its ties with regional military powers (Turkey and Iran) or fully abandon its Islamist allies.
  • Any future deal between Qatar and the four boycotting countries is likely to involve Qatar agreeing to reform the pro-Islamist slant of al-Jazeera Arabic (while keeping the news channel on air), expelling foreign Islamists or restricting their political activities, and providing assurances that defence ties with Iran are non-threatening. Equally, the boycotters will be pressed by Qatar and Western mediators to provide assurances that similar boycott action will not recur. The Economist Intelligence Unit expects a positive discussion between both parties to take place towards the end of the forecast period.
  • Despite mounting criticism of Qatar's human rights record, and critical media coverage of its mistreatment of foreign workers, The Economist Intelligence Unit expects the 2022 football World Cup to go ahead in Qatar. But the success of the event will be undermined by negative media coverage and, potentially, low turnout of fans.
  • The government will seek to shield its citizens from economic pain precipitated by the boycott by ramping up current spending. This slowed the pace of fiscal consolidation in 2017-although the deficit still more than halved compared with 2016, to 4.1% of GDP. We forecast that the fiscal deficit will narrow to an annual average of 2.5% of GDP in 2018-22.
  • Qatar will come under increasing pressure to depart from oil indexation and long-term contracts, as major importers of liquefied natural gas (LNG) will be able to choose from a wider range of suppliers.
  • Only gradual import growth means that Qatar's current account will remain in surplus in 2018-22. However, we expect a significant narrowing of the surplus in 2020-21, mainly reflecting the knock-on effect of the liquidation of sovereign wealth fund assets on primary income credits.


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