Desperate moves: Qatar fires blanks aimed at Saudi, UAE products

May 29, 2018 7:45 am

supermarket in Old Town Doha, Qatar

Qatari showdowns in the skies against unarmed UAE civilian planes have turned into an all out war on Saudi and UAE products, among others, on Qatar supermaket shelves.

As reported by CNN Money, Qatar has ordered retailers to stop selling products from Saudi Arabia and other countries that severed ties with it on June 5 2017, namely Bahrain and Egypt.

The quartet launched a political and commercial boycott of Qatar last June, accusing it of supporting terrorism, something the country adamantly denies.

The boycoptt ended a previously focused economic integration within the Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC], a 6-member trade bloc with a common market and customs union.

“Qatar quickly turned to other countries like Turkey to help replace the supplies of food and other key imports that had suddenly been cut off,” said CNN.

“But third parties have still been bringing some products from the boycotting nations to Qatar ‘through illegal channels’,” a source with knowledge of the situation told CNN on Sunday.

A ban on the sale of goods from the boycotting countries was enforced in Qatar in the early days of the crisis, but the government has seen an increase in smuggling, the CNN source added.

Hiding under the guise of smuggling

NDTV quoted a government statement late on Saturday as saying “Products originating from the blockading states, which as a result of the blockade cannot pass the GCC Customs Territory, have to undergo proper import inspections and customs procedures”.

The national Al Watan newspaper quoted a circular from the Ministry of Economy and Commerce telling traders and shops to stop dealing in products imported from the four countries, warning inspectors would monitor compliance with the policy.

Imports into Qatar plunged about 40% from a year earlier in the initial weeks of the boycott, said NDTV, adding that Doha has found new sources of products, and developed new shipping routes through places such as Oman.

Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa told Alsharq Alawsat newspaper on Sunday he saw no resolution to the diplomatic row in sight.

Qatar is wilting  

Tensions between Qatar and the UAE were on display back in January 15, 2018, when the UAE reported, and later showed radar evidence of, Qatari fighter jets intercepting two Emirati commercial aircraft bound for Bahrain, an allegation Qatar also denied.

But since the June 2017 boycott, Qatar’s economy has been reduced to a shadow of its former self, according to a report by Khaleej Times.

“In the last one year, the economic growth in the tiny peninsula has slipped. Import costs have risen, and residents have been affected by rising prices primarily of food and transport. Foreign financing and private sector deposits too have fallen, by $40 billion,” the UAE daily said.

“The government is learnt to have repatriated billions from its overseas portfolio to keep the domestic financial systems up and running. It has dipped into the country’s sovereign wealth fund to divert cash for the economy, and has been pumping $200 billion in the infrastructure sector to keep projects running.”


Hadi Khatib
By Hadi Khatib
Hadi Khatib is a business editor with more than 15 years' experience delivering news and copy of relevance to a wide range of audiences. If newsworthy and actionable, you will find this editor interested in hearing about your sector developments and writing about it.