Qatar's economic growth is likely to see a slowdown after this year as the large investment programme to boost liquid natural gas production capacity tails off, Standard & Poor's has said in a new report.
However, growth could accelerate again from 2015 when the government's moratorium on the development of new hydrocarbon projects is expected to end, the rating agency said.
And it predicted that Qatar Investment Authority's aggressive strategy to buy up high profile foreign assets was likely to continue.
S&P said it remained upbeat on the Gulf state's economic prospects, saying the government would remain in a "strong net asset position".
The report predicted population growth to average around six percent per year until 2015 and as a result real GDP per capita was likely to decline modestly, by one percent on average over the period.
The comments came as S&P affirmed its long- and short-term foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings on Qatar at 'AA/A-1+' with a stable outlook.
"The ratings on Qatar reflect our view of Qatar's high levels of economic wealth and the country's strong fiscal and external balance sheets," the report said.
It added that Qatar is one of the wealthiest economies it rates, with GDP per capita estimated at $98,000 in 2012.
"Relative to peers, real GDP per capita growth has been strong in recent years, but we anticipate a contraction from 2012 onward as the large investment program to boost liquid natural gas production capacity to approximately 77 million tons per year tails off," S&P said.
It added that economic growth could accelerate again from 2015 when the government's moratorium on the development of new hydrocarbon projects is expected to end.
S&P said it expected the government to continue to accumulate external assets with fiscal surpluses invested abroad through the Qatar Investment Authority.
QIA owns stakes in German carmakers Volkswagen, Porsche, US-based jewellery retailer Tiffany’s and LVMH, the French luxury group which owns Louis Vuitton. The Doha-based investment firm also owns the London department store Harrods.
"The pace of future asset accumulation will depend on the evolution of hydrocarbon production and prices. In our view, these sizable assets balance the concentration risk of the Qatari economy, where oil and gas directly account for a substantial proportion of GDP, exports and government revenues," S&P's report said.
It added that the stable outlook balanced its view of Qatar's high economic wealth levels and strong fiscal position against its institutional shortcomings, limited monetary flexibility, and its banks' increasing dependence on external financing.