In recent years, Qatar has had a persistent trade surplus, while maintaining an overall balance of payments deficit. The gap in the balance of payments is largely due to massive imports in services and person transfers, and somewhat to outflowing capital transfers.
The Qatar Central Bank reports that in 1998 there was a surplus in the balance of goods of $358 million, a substantial decline from the surplus of $897 million posted in 1997. The central bank's numbers were based on an exchange rate of QR 3.64 per $1. The decline was the result of a reduced rate of exports and an increased rate of imports. Although oil exports grew in volume, lower prices for oil resulted in less revenue. More than offsetting the surplus on goods, the balance on services posted a record deficit of $2.4 billion. Capital and private transfers, as represented in state borrowings from foreign sources and official and private investments in foreign markets recorded a surplus of $1.34 billion, a 13% increase over 1997. Overall, the 1998 balance of payments registered a deficit of $736 million. This deficit was largely due to increased borrowing necessary to expand the country's liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry. It is estimated that these deficits will continue for the next several years until revenues from LNG exports from the North Field begin to impact the economy.
The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2001 the purchasing power parity of Qatar's exports was $11 billion while imports totaled $3.5 billion resulting in a trade surplus of $7.5 billion.