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Amid crisis, Qatar opens up access points for Indian trade

NAYANIMA BASU Richa Mishra New Delhi | Updated on January 12, 2018 Published on June 20, 2017

India is Qatar’s third largest buyer of natural gas after Japan and South Korea. However, trade between India and Qatar has been consistently falling since 2014-15.

To convince trade partners that it is business as usual, Qatar is opening up as many access points as possible for India so that business between the two can operate smoothly.

Diplomatically isolated by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt, the Qatari government is now taking several measures to ensure that its clients do not face the heat of its crisis.

India is Qatar’s third largest buyer of natural gas after Japan and South Korea.

“For us, it has been business as usual and there has not been any economic impact,” Prabhat Kumar Singh, CEO and MD of Petronet LNG, told BusinessLine. “It is only when we read that we know there are issues. Recently, officials from RasGas were here and we were told that there will be no supply constraints.”

In fact, the Indians were informed that restrictions on using the Fujairah port have now been eased.

Petronet LNG Ltd (PLL) has three contracts with Qatar’s RasGas and buys 8.5 million tonne of LNG. Additionally, it sources the fuel from the spot market.

Qatar is also prepared with alternative routes for Indian consignments to reach the shores of Doha, according to diplomatic sources. This follows the shutting down of the Jebel Ali port in Dubai that used to be the main hub for shipping Indian consignments to the region.

“While Qatar is maintaining freedom of movement for Indian goods, it is Iran that has opened its ports Bandar Abbas and Chahbahar as transit points for Indian goods to reach Doha. And, unlike Pakistan, the Saudis are not pressuring India to severe ties with Qatar, but there cannot be business as usual,” said Talmiz Ahmad, former Indian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Oman and the UAE.

However, trade between India and Qatar has been consistently falling since 2014-15, reaching $8.42 billion in 2016-17 from $15.65 billion in 2014-15, according to Commerce and Industry Ministry statistics.

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Published on June 20, 2017
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