Blockaded Qatar deepens ties to Iran as trade rises 5-fold in October
BLOCKADED Qatar is reaching out to Iran for trade deals, said Qatari Economy Minister Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani during talks with Iranian Trade and Industry Minister Mohammad Shariatmadari, reports Tehran's Financial Tribune.
Iran's exports to Qatar during the month to October 22 grew five fold, or by $50 million, in of non-oil products.
The Qatari official who is heading an economic and trade delegation to Iran said that bilateral interactions between the two sides have significantly increased during the last few months.
"Foodstuff and construction material have been Qatar's main imported goods from Iran," he said, reported Iran's Mehr News Agency.
Iran and Qatar have been forging stronger economic ties ever since a number of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia abruptly severed diplomatic relations with Doha in June and imposed a blockade on the Persian Gulf country, accusing it of supporting terrorist groups.
The Qatari government has denied the accusation, condemning the blockade as unjustified and a violation of international law.
Following these developments, Iranian exporters have vied for the Qatari market in the absence of Doha's traditional Arab trading partners.
Latest statistics released by the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration show Iran exported US$139 million worth of non-oil goods to Qatar during the seven months to October 22, a 117.5 per cent year-on-year increase.
"Iran is playing an important role in the transport of goods from Turkey and Azerbaijan to Qatar," the Qatari minister said.
Turkey and Azerbaijan have been using Iran as a land route to export to Qatar, filling the gap in the market in the absence of Saudi Arabia and its allies after the crisis broke out, said the Tehran news agency.
According to Mohammed bin Mahdi Al Ahbabi, a board member of Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the land route between Turkey and Qatar via Iran reduces the cost of transport of goods by about 80 per cent compared to air cargo.
Mr Shariatmadari said given that Qatar will be hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Iran's technical and engineering services can meet the needs of the Qatari market.
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said back in September that the Saudi-led economic blockade on Qatar is pushing it closer to Iran economically.
"They [Saudi Arabia and its allies] said Qatar was now closer to Iran. By their measures they are pushing Qatar to Iran," he said.