Qatar's foreign trade surplus shrank by nearly 33 percent to QAR22.75 billion ($6.25 billion) in December from QAR33.86 billion a year earlier because of falling oil and natural gas prices, preliminary data from the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics revealed.
Exports of petroleum gases and other gaseous hydrocarbons in December fell 17.7 percent year-on-year to QAR22.76 billion, the figures said.
In December, Qatar predicted its economy would grow 7.7 percent this year, signalling the world's top exporter of liquefied natural gas expects very little disruption to its finances from the oil price plunge.
The forecast by the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics, was down only marginally from the 7.8 percent estimate for 2015 which the ministry delivered in June last year.
Growth of 7.7 percent in 2015 would be Qatar's fastest expansion since 2011 and an acceleration from 6.3 percent estimated for this year.
In the April-June quarter of the current fiscal year, actual state spending fell 6.6 percent from a year ago to QAR38.8 billion and the government enjoyed an actual surplus of QAR79 billion, according to the latest data.
Since then, however, the price of Brent crude oil has plunged from around $115 a barrel to below $50, putting the finances of the Gulf oil exporters under pressure.
Qatar may be the least affected country in the group; although it is a significant oil producer, its natural gas export revenues are only weakly correlated with oil.
In a speech in November, Qatar's emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, said the economy would not be affected by the slide in oil prices because the state budget was based on conservative assumptions.For all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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