Gulf Thaw May Boost Qatar’s Non-Oil Economy, Fitch Says

A resolution of the dispute between Qatar and its Gulf neighbors is expected to bolster prospects for the gas-rich nation’s non-oil economy over the medium term, according to Fitch Ratings.

“A resumption of travel links will eventually lift tourism inflows, and greater interest from regional buyers could support the real estate market, which has been in a multi-year downturn,” the ratings agency said in a note.

Saudi Arabia planned to open its land, air and sea borders with Qatar on Monday, the eve of a regional leaders’ summit in the kingdom. The step came amid efforts to resolve the dispute that’s split Qatar from its neighbors since 2017.

Fitch also said:

  • Qatar’s high leverage will remain a key rating constraint. It expects general government debt-to-GDP ratio to reach 76% in 2020, up from 60% in 2017
  • Contingent liabilities are large, especially those from local banks. Lenders’ net foreign liabilities rose to a $130 billion, or 70% of GDP, in 2019
  • The government’s asset position mitigates some of the risks from high indebtedness; Fitch estimates sovereign net foreign assets at 137% of GDP in 2019.
  • Qatar will post “a roughly balanced budget” in 2020, including estimated investment income from Qatar Investment Authority assets
  • Read more: Qatar Set for Biggest Budget Deficit Since Gulf Spat in 2017

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