Over the past decade, Qatar has relied more and more on imports. The value of imports more than doubled since 1990, peaking to US$3.9 billion in 1999, up from US$1.2 billion in 1989. Imports have traditionally varied from basic foodstuffs to consumer goods . Since the early 1990s, however, capital purchases for gas development projects have accounted for approximately 40 percent of imports. The volume of imports is expected to rise by
|Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Qatar|
|SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.|
2002, largely because of revived government spending in the construction business.
Imports of foreign goods are dominated by Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) suppliers, namely Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, Italy, and Germany. (The OECD is a 30-member organization that provides governments with a forum to discuss and develop economic and social policy.) In 1998, Japan overtook the United Kingdom as Qatar's major supplier of machinery and manufactures, providing 15.4 percent of total imports. Imports from the United Kingdom accounted for 13.9 percent of total imports, followed by France, the United States, and Germany.
Qatar's exports are dominated by crude oil, although its importance has begun to decline in recent years due to the increase in the export of LNGs. As a result of its dependence on crude oil, which roughly accounts for 56 percent of exports, Qatar's export bill has fluctuated with world oil prices. Export revenue surged from US$4.36 billion in 1998 to US$6.6 billion in 1999. In 1998, Japan was also Qatar's largest export partner, accounting for 58.1 percent of the total export bill. South Korea came next at 11.0 percent, followed by Singapore, the United States, and Thailand.
The substantial oil revenue has allowed Qatar to maintain a trade surplus . However, the transfer of large amounts of money in remittances by the large expatriate workers community has consistently resulted in a deficit in the current account for most of the past decade. The deficit peaked to US$1.6 billion in 1993, and the government's efforts to reduce the number of expatriate workers is expected to reverse the trend in the coming years. Similarly, the service balance has registered a deficit for much of the past decade, due to the government's heavy spending on defense and capital imports related to the LNG development. In 1999, the deficit in the service balance reached US$1.5 billion. The income balance also has registered a deficit as a result of the interest on the country's mounting foreign debt .
|Exchange rates: Qatar|
|Qatari riyals (QR) per US$1|
|Note: Rate is fixed.|
|SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].|