Tribune News Network
Despite facing fluctuating commodity prices and a regional blockade for 18-months, majority of chief executive officers (CEOs) in Qatar are positive about the economic outlook in the coming months, according to a recent Oxford Business Group (OBG) survey.
The OBG’s 2019 edition of the Business Barometer: Qatar CEO Survey on economy, asked 100 C-suite executives from across Qatar’s industries, a wide-ranging series of questions on a face-to-face basis aimed at gauging business sentiment.
The survey found around 84 percent of respondents saying that they felt positive or very positive about local business conditions in the near term.
Just over half (51 percent) of those interviewed told OBG that they expected full-year economic growth to reach between 2 percent and 3 percent in 2019, just below the International Monetary Fund’s (IMFs) forecast of 3.1 percent, while almost one-fifth (18 percent) gave an estimation of between 3 percent and 4 percent.
When asked whether Qatar’s efforts to enhance its business climate are delivering results, 56 percent of executives surveyed said they believed the sector in which they operate is ready to implement value-added tax (VAT) ahead of its introduction, reflecting the IMF’s observations in November when its delegation praised the country’s prudent fiscal policy, healthy financial system and accelerated structural reforms that were taking place.
With a raft of infrastructure projects under way and more in the pipeline as Qatar’s preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup gain pace, there were also indications of the key skills that business leaders believe are in high demand locally, the report noted.
From the executives interviewed, 25 percent cited engineering skills as those most in need, closely followed by management, which was chosen by 24 percent of respondents, well ahead of computer tech, and research and development, which placed third and fourth respectively.
Unsurprisingly, respondents cited regional political volatility as the top external event they felt was likely to weigh on Qatar’s economy in the short to medium term, beyond movements in commodity prices.
Commenting in his blog, Billy FitzHerbert, OBG’s Regional Editor for the Middle East, said the general consensus among business leaders interviewed was that Qatar had not only weathered the storm of the embargo, but had come out fighting.
“While one might understandably suspect a case of over-bullishness here on the part of Qatari companies, digging down into the figures reveals that the sentiment is shared by both locals and foreigners alike: just under half (43 percent) of the CEOs we surveyed were heads of non-local companies,” he noted.
FitzHerbert said the speed with which the authorities had minimised disruptions to imports by successfully seeking out new trading partners had been crucial to boosting sentiment and securing continued growth. .
“Moving into 2019, the country’s second National Development Strategy 2018-22, launched in March 2018, will come increasingly to the fore,” he added.
“One key strategy area is foreign direct investment, with the government recognising the importance of private sector participation in the development of economic infrastructure.”