Plummeting foreign trade surplus, amid falling hydrocarbons exports, coupled with chronically negative services portfolio, pushed Qatar’s current account (CA) balance into a historic QAR8.23bn ($2.24bn) deficit in Q1 2016, from a QAR3.173bn surplus in the preceding quarter and QAR19.57bn surplus in Q1 2015, the central bank said in a preliminary estimate.
Sharply narrowing trade surplus amid falling hydrocarbons exports will push Qatar’s current account into a deficit (the first in more than a decade) of 5% of GDP in 2016 compared with a 4.5% of GDP surplus last year. The mild recovery in oil prices currently developing might, however, help address Qatar’s external position in H2.
Qatar’s CA surplus was dampened by 45% q/q and 63% y/y declines in foreign trade surplus to QAR19.27bn in Q1 2016 amid falling exports, mainly of hydrocarbons, that largely outweighed rising imports.
Qatar’s negative services income portfolio narrowed a marginal 1% q/q to QAR13.83bn in Q1. The income portfolio, however, reported a positive QAR493mn surplus in Q1, reversing a QAR2.627bn negative balance in Q4 last year. Current transfers remained at negative QAR14.2bn in Q1 albeit narrowing from a negative QAR15.172bn in Q4 2015.
The worsening parameters widened Qatar’s BoP gap by 75% q/q and 78% y/y to QAR2.61bn in Q1 2016.
The balance of payments recorded QAR20bn deficit in 2015 as a whole.
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