The Qatar-US trade balance in goods, which is often in favour of the US, was skewed towards Qatar in January 2019. The world’s largest economy reported a rare trade deficit of $143.2m (QR521.46m) against Qatar for the first month of this year, latest official data show.
Before January 2019 the US, over a period of the last five years, witnessed a monthly trade deficit (against Qatar) was only on two occasions—once in July 2018 (with a small deficit of $3.2m) and other in January 2015 ($11.7m).
This was due to an unprecedented change in the usual trade pattern between the two countries. There was a significant increase in US import from Qatar and a sharp decline in US export to the Gulf nation in January 2019 compared to the previous month (December) as well as the corresponding month last year.
The bilateral trade volume (in goods) between Qatar and the US reached $435.4m (QR1.58bn) in January 2019, up nearly 27 percent (year-on-year) compared to $343.1m (QR1.24bn) registered in January last year, according to online data released by the US Census Bureau.
The US exported goods worth $146.1m to Qatar in January 2019, while its import from Qatar surged to $289.3m, registering a triple digit growth of about 103 percent compared to $142.6m in January 2018. When compared with the previous month ($114m in December 2018) it increased by over 153 percent.
The US exports of goods to Qatar saw a sharp decline in January 2019 ($146.1m) both by monthly basis as well as year-on-year. The US export to Qatar in December 2018 was $265.8m, while in January 2018 it stood at $200.5m. The exact reason for the sudden change in the bilateral trade exchange is not known. However, Qatar, which has been facing an unjust economic and political siege by Arab quartet since early June 2017, is pursuing a new trade policy of export promotion and import substitution.
Qatar, after the blockade, has been diversifying its import and export destinations and establishing new trade partners. It is also expanding and deepening economic cooperation with traditional trading partners across the world, including India, China, and the US.
The accelerated efforts to boost bilateral trade and economic cooperation between Qatar and the US have already started yielding positive results. Both, the value of trade exchange as well as trade balance between Qatar and the US witnessed sharp jump in 2018.
The US trade surplus with Qatar in 2018 surged to QR10.37bn ($2.85bn), up nearly 49 percent compared to QR6.99bn ($1.92bn) registered in the previous year, official data for the full year show.
However, the US trade surplus against Qatar, despite registering remarkable growth in 2018 remained far low compared to QR13.32bn ($3.76bn) recorded in 2016, which was the all time high. In 2016 the Qatar-US bilateral trade volume peaked to QR22.14bn ($6.08bn).