Qatar expects its economic growth will slow to 4.5 percent in 2013, the weakest rate in a decade, but the Gulf state plans to continue heavy investment in its non-hydrocarbon sector, the state planning authority said on Monday.
OPEC member Qatar’s oil and gas-reliant economy has been surging for the past six years as the country has become the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, but it is expected to decelerate as the impact of two decades of gas output expansion fades.
The General Secretariat for Development Planning sees inflation-adjusted gross domestic product growth easing to 6.2 percent in 2012 from 14 percent last year. The weakening global growth outlook and the eurozone debt crisis pose a risk to Qatar as they affect oil prices.
“While the [euro] bloc’s problems may seem remote from Qatar, an unexpected weakening of oil prices risks reducing the resources available to the state,” the GSDP said.
Worsening global economy prospects have already knocked crude oil prices down $35 from March highs to around $90 per barrel, near the lowest levels since December 2010.
The International Monetary Fund said in January, after concluding regular consultations with Qatar, that its government had adequate financial cushions to mitigate potential risks.
Paul Gamble, head of research at Jadwa Investment in Riyadh, said: “4.5 percent is a bit below our expectations, but is still a fairly healthy number.”