IMF expects Qatar GDP growth to rise to 2.4 percent in 2018

FILE PHOTO: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) logo is seen outside the headquarters building in Washington, U.S., as IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde meets with Argentine Treasury Minister Nicolas Dujovne September 4, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo

DOHA (Reuters) - Qatar’s GDP growth is projected to rise to 2.4 percent in 2018 from 1.6 percent in 2017 on the back of higher energy prices, the International Monetary Fund said on Wednesday.

Qatar has been on a drive to attract new investors and trade partners as it looks to overcome the effects of a diplomatic and trade boycott launched by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt in 2017.

“The near- to- medium-term outlook for the Qatari economy is benefiting from increased oil prices and prudent macroeconomic policies,” the IMF said in a statement following a visit to the country.

The fund forecast a further rise in GDP growth to 3.1 pct for 2019 and said the country’s foreign exchange reserves were expected to increase to $36 billion.

“Monetary and financial conditions have improved significantly, with banks attracting non-resident flows and were able to reduce reliance on the financial support from the fiscal and monetary authorities,” it said.

The IMF said it expected Doha to introduce a value-added tax toward the end of 2019 or early 2020.

Reporting by Eric Knecht, writing by Hesham Hajali, editing by Angus MacSwan