Qatar to Take Measures Following Arab World Severed Ties
Food imports from Qatar have declined rapidly following a decision made by the Arab world leading powers with reports that Qataris are now stockpiling supplies, sources say.
On Monday, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, Bahrain and Yemen all cut ties with the wealthy nation over their support for Islamists and Iran.
Qatar is largely dependent on imports of food supplies such as white sugar, estimated at below 100,000 tons annually. Consumption and demand is typically higher during the holy month of Ramadan, currently being observed.
Not knowing when trade may resume, the Qatari government said in a statement Monday that it was open for trade:
“The Council would like to reassure Qatar’s citizens and residents that the government had already taken the necessary measures and precautions to ensure that normal life continues, and that there will be no negative impact caused by the latest measures.”
“In addition, sea ports will continue to be open for trade, and air space will continue to be open for trade, transport and air travel, with the exception of the countries that have closed their borders and air space.”
CHAOS HAPPENING AT THE BORDER
Thousands of food supply trucks were stuck at the border with Saudi Arabia and unable to cross over into Qatar, according to two Middle East trade sources.
Eva Tobaji, of Doha, told Reuters after returning from shopping, “People have stormed into the supermarket hoarding food, especially imported ones … It’s chaos. I’ve never seen anything like this before.”
Roughly 80 percent of Qatar’s food requirements are sourced by largwe Gulf Arab neighbours, such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
“There will be a crisis for them maybe in the next month or so until they figure out their supply chain,” another Middle East trade source said. “The situation as it now stands is like a siege.”
Saudi Arabia’s Ports Authority notified shipping agents on Monday not to receive vessels carrying Qatari flags or ships that are owned by Qatari companies or individuals.
At the port of Fujairah, the UAE took similar measures issuing a notice barring all vessels carrying Qatari flags and any destined for or arriving from Qatari ports.
The world’s greatest container shipping line Maersk following Monday’s action assured that it was still open for business to and from Qatar, adding that it was following developments closely.
Qatar denounced the reasons surrounding this diplomatic isolation as based on lies about it supporting militants. Saudi Arabia, like Qatar, has also been accused of being a funding source for Islamists.
Iran blamed U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent visit to Riyadh for the diplomatic rifts in Muslim secular societies.
If the crisis is not resolved, it is possible that Qatar could look at other sources of food from Asia and Iran, according to trade sources.
Reza Nourani, chairman of Iran’s Union of Exporters of Agricultural Products, was quoted by the semi-official Fars news agency as saying that Tehran could export food to Qatar by sea, which could reach the country in 12 hours.
Fars is suspected of having ties with Iran’s aggressive Revolutionary Guards.
“We can export any kind of agricultural products and food from Iranian ports of Bandar Abbas, Bandar Lengeh and Bushehr,” Nourani said.
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