For the latest updates on the key economic responses from governments to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the IMF's policy tracking platform Policy Responses to COVID-19.
Qatar lost its status of leading exporter of liquefied natural gas to Australia in 2020 but holds the third largest gas reserves in the world (estimated at 12% of the global total in 2022). The Emirate’s economy is thus heavily concentrated in the gas industry, which represents two-thirds of its GDP and almost 80% of export earnings. Like other Gulf monarchies, Qatar has been hit by the global decline in oil prices since 2014. However, the economic results have been better than that of its neighbours, due to successful economic diversification, namely via the development of large-scale projects. The country weathered the diplomatic rift with other Gulf crisis by finding new import and export routes, with its growth rate reaching 0.8% in 2019. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it plummeted to -3.6% in 2020 but came back to +1.6% in 2021 and +3.4% in 2022, pushed by a boom in the services sector associated with the FIFA 2022 World Cup. It is expected to reach 2.4% in 2022 and 1.7% in 2024 (IMF, January 2023).
General government debt has grown from 62.3% of GDP in 2019 to 72.1% in 2020 as the country continued to borrow on international markets and then back to 58.4% in 2021 and 46.9% in 2022. The IMF anticipates a debt reduction in 2023 and 2024, with levels reaching 43.4% and 42.4% of GDP respectively. The negative economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the fall in oil prices translated into a current account deficit in 2020 (-2% of GDP) before returning to positive territory in 2021 (+14.7%) and 2022 (+21.2%). It is expected to reach 22.1% in 2023 and 15.2% in 2024. In the medium term, the expansion of North Field gas projects is expected to be completed by 2024, further boosting gas output. Qatar has been implementing an economic diversification program to lower its dependency on the hydrocarbon sector, and in December 2018 the country announced it would leave OPEC in January 2019 to focus its efforts on natural gas (mainly due to the diplomatic tensions with neighbouring countries). New projects are planned in infrastructure and telecommunications, and various construction projects were completed for the World Cup in 2022. Inflation was estimated to have fallen to -2.7% in 2020 but came back in 2021 at 2.3% and 2022 at 4.5%. The IMF estimates inflation to decrease to 3.3% in 2023 and 2.1% in 2024 in its latest World Economic Outlook of January 2023. Qatar is planning the introduction of a 5% VAT in 2023-2024.
Qatar is overall a politically stable, rich country (it had the second highest income per capita in the world in 2021 according to the World Bank, PPP). It is estimated that 85% of the inhabitants are expatriates, whose rights are limited, despite the progress made with recent reforms. According to World Bank, unemployment is almost null, representing under 1% of the total labour force in 2021.
|Main Indicators||2020||2021||2022 (E)||2023 (E)||2024 (E)|
|GDP (billions USD)||144.41||179.68||225.48||219.57||225.67|
|GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change)||-3.6||1.6||4.2||2.4||1.8|
|GDP per Capita (USD)||53,798||68,622||84,425||83,891||87,093|
|General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP)||72.6||58.4||45.3||45.5||42.9|
|Inflation Rate (%)||-2.5||2.3||5.0||3.0||2.7|
|Current Account (billions USD)||-2.86||26.46||58.58||42.14||33.57|
|Current Account (in % of GDP)||-2.0||14.7||26.0||19.2||14.9|
Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database , Latest available data
Note: (e) Estimated Data
Qatar’s agricultural sector is almost non-existent due to the country’s climate and a lack of arable land. It is estimated to account for only 0.3% of GDP, employing 1% of the workforce (World Bank, 2023).
The economy of Qatar is based on the oil and natural gas sectors: proved natural gas reserves represent 13% of the world total and the third largest in the world, while proved oil reserves exceed 25.2 billion barrels, which means the production could continue for over 56 years at current levels. Qatar's liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry has attracted tens of billions of dollars in foreign investment and made Qatar the world’s largest exporter of this commodity. Being the country’s main economic engine and government revenue source, Qatar is highly dependent on the oil & gas sector, thus after the drop in commodity prices in recent years, it tried to diversify its economy, focusing mainly on manufacturing, construction, leading non-oil GDP to steadily rise to just over half the total. The construction sector in particular was booming due to the preparation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup of football. Overall, the industrial sector contributes 60% of GDP and 54% of employment (World Bank, 2023).
The services sector is based mainly on financial services and is estimated to account for 44.8% of GDP, giving employment to 45% of the active population (World Bank, 2023). Tourism is also an important economic sector: The Qatari government expects to increase the share of tourism in GDP to 4% from 3.5% by 2023.
|Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector||Agriculture||Industry||Services|
|Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment)||1.2||53.7||45.1|
|Value Added (in % of GDP)||0.3||60.0||44.8|
|Value Added (Annual % Change)||0.5||0.7||3.3|
Source: World Bank - Latest available data.
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|Qatari Rial (QAR) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 MUR||0.10||0.11||0.11||0.10||0.09|
Source: World Bank - Latest available data.
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The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.
The business rankings model measures the quality or attractiveness of the business environment in the 82 countries covered by The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Country Forecast reports. It examines ten separate criteria or categories, covering the political environment, the macroeconomic environment, market opportunities, policy towards free enterprise and competition, policy towards foreign investment, foreign trade and exchange controls, taxes, financing, the labour market and infrastructure.
Qatar's trade policy is essentially focused on creating a modern and liberal economy. This is reflected in its promotion of investment (both domestic and foreign), its trade diversification programs at the regional and international levels and membership in several organisations, such as the WTO. Trade represents 93% of the country's GDP in 2021 (World Bank, 2023). Mineral fuels, oils and distillation products represented over 85% of the country’s exports in 2022 (mainly natural gas, followed by crude and other oil products), while imports were led by manufactured products, especially machinery, boilers, Electrical and electronic equipment and Vehicles other than railway and tramway.
In 2021, the main trading partners were China (15.5%), Japan (13.6%), India (15%) and South Korea (12.8%). Qatar’s leading suppliers were China (16.3%), the United States (11.8%), India (6.4%) and Germany (5.8%). Qatar has very few trade barriers and relatively low customs duties. It has signed a number of free trade agreements, both bilaterally and via the Gulf Cooperation Council, and has concluded a new trade deals with Pakistan on February 2020.
Benefiting from strong oil and gas revenues, Qatar's merchandise trade balance is structurally positive (27.1 billion USD in 2020 and 60.33 billion USD in 2021). The fluctuation in oil prices, the COVID19 pandemic and the global effect of the war in Ukraine has impacted on the surplus in recent years. Exports increased in 2021 to 87.20 billion USD from 51.50 billion USD a year earlier) while imports increased from 25.83 billion USD to 27.98 billion USD). As many countries in the region, Qatar remains a net importer of services: imports reached USD 34.34 billion in 2021, while exports amounted to USD 18.34 billion. The trade surplus including services was estimated to have sharply increased to USD 44.34 billion in 2021, from USD 11.86 billion the year before (WTO, 2023).
Qatar’s trade balance surplus has surged to hit QAR 28.2 billion (7.75 billion USD) in December 2022. The figure reflects a 10% increase on an annual basis and a 7.6% climb on a monthly basis. The surge in the Gulf country’s trade balance surplus is mainly attributed to the increase in exports and the curbing of imports (Qatar Planning and Statistics Authority, 2023).
|Foreign Trade Indicators||2017||2018||2019||2020||2021|
|Imports of Goods (million USD)||30,887||31,696||29,178||25,835||27,985|
|Exports of Goods (million USD)||67,500||84,288||72,935||51,504||87,203|
|Imports of Services (million USD)||29,715||30,735||33,648||32,897||34,340|
|Exports of Services (million USD)||17,527||17,780||18,336||18,378||18,346|
|Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change)||-3.5||4.6||1.9||-8.9||n/a|
|Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change)||1.3||-1.2||-2.2||-1.5||n/a|
|Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP)||38.6||35.9||38.0||40.9||34.1|
|Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP)||52.9||55.9||52.3||49.1||58.9|
|Trade Balance (million USD)||36,733||50,981||41,581||27,137||60,339|
|Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD)||23,012||36,750||25,276||11,869||44,345|
|Foreign Trade (in % of GDP)||91.5||91.8||90.3||90.0||93.0|
Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank , Latest Available Data
(% of Exports)
|See More Countries||45.5%|
(% of Imports)
|See More Countries||52.3%|
Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data
|131.0 bn USD of products exported in 2022|
|Petroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbonsPetroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbons||65.2%|
|Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude||14.3%|
|Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals||7.8%|
|Mineral or chemical nitrogenous fertilisers (excl....Mineral or chemical nitrogenous fertilisers (excl. those in pellet or similar forms, or in packages with a gross weight of <= 10 kg)||2.7%|
|Polymers of ethylene, in primary formsPolymers of ethylene, in primary forms||2.2%|
|See More Products||7.8%|
|33.5 bn USD of products imported in 2022|
|Turbojets, turbopropellers and other gas turbinesTurbojets, turbopropellers and other gas turbines||5.9%|
|Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally...Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702)||4.0%|
|Telephone sets, incl. telephones for cellular...Telephone sets, incl. telephones for cellular networks or for other wireless networks; other apparatus for the transmission or reception of voice, images or other data, incl. apparatus for communication in a wired or wireless network [such as a local or wide area network]; parts thereof (excl. than transmission or reception apparatus of heading 8443, 8525, 8527 or 8528)||3.1%|
|Automatic data-processing machines and units...Automatic data-processing machines and units thereof; magnetic or optical readers, machines for transcribing data onto data media in coded form and machines for processing such data, n.e.s.||1.9%|
|Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed...Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses "incl. those in the form of transdermal administration" or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006)||1.9%|
|See More Products||83.2%|
Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data
To go further, check out our service Import Export Flows.
|18.3 bn USD of services exported in 2018|
|29.7 bn USD of services imported in 2018|
Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data
The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).
The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.
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Latest Update: September 2023