Qatari economy grew 14% in 2011
DUBAI QATAR’S economy expanded 14 percent in inflation-adjusted terms last year as energy exports gave it one of the highest growth rates in the world, although the pace was slower than analysts had expected, preliminary data from the Statistics Authority showed on Wednesday.
Real gross domestic product of the world’s top liquefied natural gas exporter grew 4.4 percent quarter-on-quarter in the final three months of 2011, and 14.7 percent on an annual basis, the data revealed.
Last year’s growth was below a consensus estimate of 17.5 percent given by a Reuters poll of analysts, and below the IMF’s latest estimate of 18.7 percent.
The statistics authority did not explain the discrepancy.
Qatar’s economy expanded 16.6 percent in 2010, according to an IMF estimate.
Growth is expected to slow to 6.6 percent this year as the impact of two decades of gas output expansion fades, largely because Qatar has put a selfimposed moratorium on new hydrocarbon projects to conserve resources. But that would still be 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.” Heavy government investment in infrastructure will sustain annual growth in the nonhydrocarbon sector of between 9 and 10 percent beyond 2012, the IMF said in January.
The country of 1.7 million people, which pegs its riyal to the US dollar, has outlined public investment plans worth $95 billion over five years to 2016, as it prepares to host the 2022 soccer World Cup.