Sanctions Affect At Least 15 Percent of Qatari Imports
In an analysis released Wednesday, S&P Global quantified the damage to Qatari trade from the economic sanctions imposed by a group of six states, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt. According to S&P, these states are responsible for 10 percent of Qatar's exports and 15 percent of its imports.
It was not immediately clear whether these values included Qatari trade that is transshipped through these nations on its way to or from other countries – like all Maersk container cargoes to and from Qatar, which must be transferred to feeder ships at the UAE's Jebel Ali port. In a statement Tuesday, Maersk Line indicated that the sanctions have forced it to suspend shipments to Qatar because these feeder services have stopped; in an update Wednesday the carrier told Bloomberg that it is working on alternatives and expects to have more information within 48 hours.
In its review, S&P added that the sanctions were damaging enough to Qatar's economy and to its attractiveness to foreign investors that the agency has downgraded its creditworthiness, with a negative outlook. "We believe [sanctions] will exacerbate Qatar's external vulnerabilities and could put pressure on its economic growth and fiscal metrics," the ratings agency said.
The economic sanctions are a form of retaliation for Qatar's alleged engagement with terrorist organizations Hamas and Hezbollah and its recent rapprochement with Iran. Until and unless Qatar renounces these alleged ties, there are few signs that the shipping ban will be eased: the UAE's foreign minister said Wednesday that there was "nothing to negotiate" with Qatar. However, the UAE's Abu Dhabi Petroleum Ports Authority has moderated its stance on Qatari oil and gas shipments by permitting foreign vessels to call at its terminals while engaged in voyages to or from Qatar. It still prohibits Qatari-flagged or Qatari-owned ships from docking.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke out against the sanctions on Wednesday, saying that they are "not good" and that "Turkey will continue and develop our ties with Qatar." The chairman of the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TIM) announced that Turkey's traders are ready to supply goods to Qatar to fill any gaps. Reza Nourani, the chairman of Iran's agricultural exporters association, said that Iranian suppliers are ready to send food shipments to Qatar and can deliver goods within 12 hours. Iran's biggest seaport, Bandar Abbas, is only 300 nm across the Persian Gulf from Doha.
U.S. President Donald Trump initially claimed credit for Qatar's newfound isolation from its neighbors, but on Wednesday he called Qatari ruler Sheikh Tamin bin Hamad Al Thani to offer his services in brokering a diplomatic solution. According to a White House readout of their conversation, Trump "emphasized the importance of all countries in the region working together to prevent the financing of terrorist organizations and stop the promotion of extremist ideology." Trump also stressed that the partnership of Arab nations in the Gulf Cooperation Council (including Qatar and the countries that have imposed sanctions on it) is essential in the fight against terrorist groups and in maintaining regional stability.