Qatari economy expanded at 14% in 2011 – official data

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Photo - Alexey Sergeev

Qatari economy grew at a rate of 14% last year amid a boom in energy exports. The inflation-adjusted double digit figure means the country’s economy expanded at one of the highest growth rates in the world, albeit on a slower pace than analysts had expected, preliminary data from the Statistics Authority suggested on Wednesday.

The world’s top liquefied natural gas exporter saw its real gross domestic product (GDP) growing at 4.4% quarter-on-quarter in the final three months of 2011, and 14.7% on an annual basis, the data revealed.

Despite posting outstanding economic figures, Doha’s growth figures from last year were below a Reuters poll of analysts’ consensus estimate of 17.5%. It was also lower than the International Monetary Fund’s estimate of 18.7%. However, the Qatari statistics authority did not comment on the discrepancy.

Qatar’s overly hydrocarbons-reliant economy makes growth rates highly volatile and prone to speculations. The economy expanded at 16.6% in 2010, according to an IMF estimate.

According to the latest Reuters poll of analysts, Qatar has imposed a moratorium on new hydrocarbon projects to conserve resources which will slow down its growth rate to 6.6% this year. Despite, the dip in growth rates, Qatari economy would still expand at the fastest rate in the Gulf.

“We do see a slowdown in the headline rate in 2012, but the focus will switch from export volume growth – which doesn’t necessarily feel like 14 percent growth – to domestic demand, so it’s still a positive picture,” said Liz Martins, senior regional economist at HSBC in Dubai.

“Drivers of domestic demand will be increased credit growth, wage rises and strong government spending.”

The IMF noted in January that heavy government investment in infrastructure will sustain an annual growth rate of 9-10% in the non-hydrocarbon sector beyond 2012.

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