Year over year, the overall value of Qatar’s exported products accelerated by 51.1% from $51.5 billion during 2020.
Qatar’s trio of largest exports by value are petroleum gases, crude oil and refined petroleum oils. Combined, the top 3 most valuable accounted for 84.7% of the Middle Eastern country’s overall export sales during 2021.
Located on the Arabian Peninsula’s northeast coast, the State of Qatar borders with Saudi Arabia while sharing sea borders on the Persian Gulf with the United Arab Emirates and Iran.
Based on statistics from RichestCountryReports.com, Qatar is the world’s richest country in terms of GDP per capita.
Qatar’s Major Trading Partners
The latest available country-specific data shows that 82.6% of products exported from Qatar were bought by importers in: Japan (15.5% of the global total), China (15.2%), India (14.3%), South Korea (12.9%), Singapore (6.7%), Taiwan (3.5%), Thailand (3.3%), Pakistan (2.6%), United States (2.4%), United Kingdom (2.2%), United Arab Emirates (2.1%) and Italy (2%).
From a continental perspective, 85.8% of Qatar’s exports by value were delivered to Asian countries while another 9.2% was sold to importers in Europe.
Smaller percentages went to North America (2.5%), Africa (1.2%), Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (0.8%), and Oceania led by Australia (0.5%).
Given Qatar’s population of 2.62 million people, its total $77.8 billion in 2021 exports translates to roughly $20,700 for every resident in the Middle Eastern country. That dollar metric far exceeds the average $18,400 per capita one year earlier during 2020.
Qatar’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Qatari global shipments during 2021. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Qatar.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$66.1 billion (84.9% of total exports)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $2.4 billion (3.1%)
- Fertilizers: $2.2 billion (2.8%)
- Aluminum: $1.7 billion (2.1%)
- Organic chemicals: $1.6 billion (2%)
- Inorganic chemicals: $1.1 billion (1.4%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $491.1 million (0.6%)
- Iron, steel: $305.7 million (0.4%)
- Other chemical goods: $170.2 million (0.2%)
- Machinery including computers: $151.9 million (0.2%)
Qatar’s top 10 exports accounted for 97.7% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Salt, sulphur, stone and cement was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 1,242% from 2020 to 2021.
In second place for improving export sales was the metals category iron and steel via a 136.2% advance, closely followed by Qatar’s shipments of organic chemicals (up 136.1%).
The leading decliner among Qatar’s top 10 export categories was machinery including computers thanks to its -60.5% year-over-year drop.
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, petroleum gases were Qatar’s most valuable exported product worth 48.8% of the country’s total. In second place was crude oil (22.6%) trailed by refined petroleum oils (13.3%), ethylene polymers (3%), nitrogenous fertilizers (2.8%), unwrought aluminum (2.1%), hydrogen and rare gases (0.8%), hydrocarbon derivatives (0.7%), non-sublimed sulphur (0.6%) and acyclic hydrocarbons (also 0.6%).
Products Resulting in Qatar’s Largest Trade Surpluses
Qatar posted an overall $xxx billion trade surplus during 2021, down by -41.3% from $43.8 billion in black ink one year earlier.
The following types of Qatari product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$65.4 billion (Up by 55.9% since 2020)
- Fertilizers: $2.2 billion (Up by 64.2%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $1.7 billion (Up by 16.4%)
- Aluminum: $1.5 billion (Up by 43.9%)
- Organic chemicals: $1.4 billion (Up by 152.5%)
- Inorganic chemicals: $887.6 million (Up by 99%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $449.1 million (Reversing a -$217 million deficit)
- Lead: $16.8 million (Up by 90.6%)
- Plaiting products, basketware, wickerwork: $10.1 million (Reversing a -$2.6 million deficit)
- Woodpulp: $2.2 million (Up by 430.9%)
Qatar has highly positive net exports in the international trade of mineral fuels-related goods notably petroleum gases and both crude and refined petroleum oils. In turn, these cashflows indicate Qatar’s strong competitive advantages under the mineral fuels including oil product category.
Products Causing Qatar’s Worst Trade Deficits
Below are exports from Qatar that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Qatar’s goods trail Qatari importer spending on foreign products.
- Machinery including computers: -US$3.7 billion (Down by -15.9% since 2020)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$2.4 billion (Up by 12.6%)
- Vehicles: -$2.1 billion (Up by 136.3%)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: -$1.3 billion (Up by 108.2%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$1.2 billion (Up by 14%)
- Gems, precious metals: -$969.7 million (Up by 97%)
- Arms, ammunition: -$899.8 million (Up by 207.3%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: -$837.1 million (Up by 24.9%)
- Ships, boats: -$738.1 million (Up by 585%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$727.5 million (Up by 38.2%)
Qatar has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for products under the machinery including computers category.
Qatari Export Companies
Eight Qatari corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000 albeit many of these are in the financial services. Below are selected samples from the Forbes listing.
- Qatar National Bank (regional bank)
- Ooredoo Telecom (telecommunications services)
- Industries Qatar (specialized chemicals)
Wikipedia lists exports-related companies from Qatar. Selected examples are shown below.
- Qatar National Cement Company (cement manufacturing)
- Qatar Petroleum (oil, gas)
- Qatar Steel (steel, other basic materials)
- Qatargas (natural gas)
- RasGas (natural gas)
In macroeconomic terms, Qatar’s total exported goods represent 28.4% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2021 ($274.1 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 28.4% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2021 compares to 18.9% for 2020. Those percentages suggest a relatively increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Qatar’s total economic performance, albeit based on a relatively short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Qatar’s unemployment rate was projected to be 0.3% at March 2022, up from an average 0.1% for 2021 according to Trading Economics.
Qatar’s capital city is Doha.
See also World’s Richest Export Countries, Japan’s Top Trading Partners, India’s Top Trading Partners and South Korea’s Top Trading Partners
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on July 14, 2022
Forbes 2017 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on July 14, 2022
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on July 14, 2022
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on July 14, 2022
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on July 14, 2022
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on July 14, 2022
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Qatar. Accessed on July 14, 2022
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on July 14, 2022
Wikipedia, Qatar. Accessed on July 14, 2022