Qatar retaliates over Saudi-led boycott with import ban including food

By Tingmin Koe contact

- Last updated on GMT

Qatar authorities said  they have issued a directive to find new suppliers for goods coming from Saudi Arabia and other blockading states to preserve the safety of local consumers and combat improper trafficking of goods. ©Getty Images
Qatar authorities said they have issued a directive to find new suppliers for goods coming from Saudi Arabia and other blockading states to preserve the safety of local consumers and combat improper trafficking of goods. ©Getty Images
Qatar has ordered shops to remove goods — including food items — originating from four Gulf countries, and announced that inspectors will visit retail stores to ensure compliance.

The Qatar government communications office attributed the move as a way to protect consumers’ safety and to combat improper trafficking of goods, according to its official statement.

It will also stop products from entering via a third country.

It added that the government has issued a directive to find new suppliers of the variety of goods impacted.

Traders and retailers also received a circular from the Ministry of Economy and Commerce, warning them to stop selling products imported from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, reported local newspaper Al Watan. 

The move is widely seen as a retaliatory response to an import ban imposed by Saudi-led nations.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE closed their land and sea borders, as well as airports, territory and airspace, for the transportation of goods including food products destined for Qatar, in June last year. They claimed that Qatar has been financing terrorist groups and sharing close ties with Iran.

“Products originating from the blockading states, which as a result of the blockade cannot pass the Gulf Cooperation Council Customs Territory, has to undergo proper import inspections and customs procedures,” ​according to a statement from the Qatar government.

Strong rebound

The boycott has reduced​ Qatar's imports by over a third as compared to the previous year, and caused food and beverage prices to climb​ 4.5% from a year earlier. However, the government had managed to establish new channels to obtain food economically.

For instance, Qatari shipping lines have been establishing new services via Oman, Kuwait and the Indian subcontinent. Qatari food processors have also boosted their operations to make up for the disruption to imports.

An International Monetary Fund official had even described Qatar's government as having “effectively”​ protected the economy against sanctions imposed by neighbouring countries.

Qatar’s economic growth is expected to recover to 2.8% this year and rise further to an average of 3% in 2019-2020, as rising energy receipts help ease fiscal constraints, spending on the multi-year infrastructure upgrade ahead of the FIFA World Cup continues, and as the US$10 billion Barzan natural gas facility begins in 2020, according to The World Bank’s economic forecast. 

Related topics: Policy, Middle East, Food safety, Dairy

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