Qatar in decent shape despite Saudi-backed blockade

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Qatar's government has “effectively” protected the economy against sanctions imposed by neighbouring countries, according to an International Monetary Fund official. 

After leading an IMF team on a week-long visit to Doha, Mohammed El Qorchi said the impact of the Saudi-led blockade had been mitigated by liquidity injections by the Qatar central bank, as well as increased public sector deposits.

And by quickly rerouting food supplies and diversifying sources of produce, officials had eased fears of any shortages.

Closure of the border with Saudi Arabia, which cut diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar in June, as well as disruption to shipping routes via UAE has reduced Qatar's imports by over a third compared to last year’s levels. 

Qatari government figures show industrial production dropped slightly in the second financial quarter, shrinking 2.2% from a year earlier, and 0.6% from the previous quarter.

However, manufacturing of food products jumped 12.5% as Qatar runs some of its processing plants overtime to offset the disruption to imports.

Elsewhere, a local consultancy reported that nearly US$310m was invested in Qatar's food industry last year, out of an overall spend of US$82bn.

Employment in the segment now accounts for 7.2% of the manufacturing workforce, despite food’s share of just 0.4% of total investments, the Gulf Organisation for Industrial Consulting (Goic) reported.

The report sheds light on the development of Qatar's food industry and the role it plays in food security, given its status as "one of the most important manufacturing activities," Goic said. 

By the end of 2016, the total number of food manufacturing units stood at 66, representing 8% of all factories in the country, the report said. This figure has increased from 48 units in 2012.

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