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Iran-Qatar economic ties boom after Tehran helps Doha fend off Saudi-ed blockade

Iran-Qatar economic ties boom after Tehran helps Doha fend off Saudi-ed blockade

TEHRAN: Iran is benefiting from the anti-Qatari blockade that was launched by Saudi Arabia in early June, when Riyadh cut diplomatic ties with Doha and stopped access to all air, land and sea routes to the emirate, blaming it for supporting and harboring religious militants. Doha has since rejected all charges leveled against it by Riyadh.

For the first seven months of the Iranian calendar (beginning March 21 and through late October), exports of non-oil goods from Iran to Qatar reached $139 million, registering a remarkable 117.5% growth against $146.6 million in 12 months of 2016, according to Iran’s customs administration and reported by Iran’s Financial Tribune.

Bitumen, food and agricultural products accounted for the largest portion of the exports. Exports of bitumen – the black, thick mixture of hydrocarbons that is used to create asphalt and used in roofing –amounted to $28 million, significantly higher than the value of all other commodities.

When Qatar was unexpectedly hit by the blockade in June, Iran’s trade relations with Qatar were not impressive. The latest annual trade figures released by Iran’s Trade Promotion Organization show that the country exported $146.6 million worth of goods, including carpets, cement, steel pipes, beams and industrial oil to Qatar in 2016.

The summer blockade disrupted Qatar’s trade relations, threatened to alter long-standing geopolitical alliances, and forced the world’s richest country per head to seek new markets to acquire food, equipment for its booming natural gas industry, and for procuring building materials needed for the 2022 World Cup construction projects.

After Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt jumped on board with Saudi Arabia, Iran immediately allowed Qatar to use its airspace and provided it with shipments of fresh food and living essentials.