Al Emadi: Qatar is rich enough to face blockade

 08 Jul 2017 - 1:25

Al Emadi: Qatar  is rich enough to face blockade
File photo of Qatar's Finance minister HE Ali Sherif al-Emadi during a briefing in Doha, Qatar. (Reuters/Naseem Zeitoon)

Agencies

Finance minister H E Ali Sharif Al Emadi has said that the economic fundamentals of the State of Qatar are in a better position than its rivals and that Doha is rich enough to face the threats of the blockade.

Speaking to The Times newspaper, Al Emadi said the state's huge financial reserves, built on the sale of natural gas over decades, meant it could withstand sanctions.

"We have sovereign wealth funds of 250 percent of gross domestic product, we have Qatar Central Bank reserves, and we have a ministry of finance strategic reserve," he told The Times.

Although credit ratings agencies have downgraded Qatar's assessment of its financial outlook, Ali Sharif said the country was rich enough to sustain despite sanctions. He compared Qatar with the status of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt. "Bahrain and Egypt are at junk-bond level," he said.

"If you look at Saudi Arabia, they are having genuine issues with their finances. We are the fastest-growing country in the region, 40 per cent faster than the nearest Gulf Co-operation Council country.

Earlier in another interview with CNBC television he had said that  the countries which had imposed sanctions would also lose money because of the damage to business in the region.

"A lot of people think we're the only ones to lose in this... If we're going to lose a dollar, they will lose a dollar also."

The minister said the energy sector and economy of the world's top liquefied natural gas exporter were essentially operating as normal and that there had not been a serious impact on supplies of food or other goods.

Qatar can import goods from Turkey, the Far East or Europe and it will respond to the crisis by diversifying its economy even more, he told CNBC.

Asked whether Qatar might need to raise money by selling off stakes in large Western companies held by its sovereign wealth fund, the minister indicated this was not on the cards at present.

"We are extremely comfortable with our positions, our investments and liquidity in our systems," he said.

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