Tehran, Ankara and Doha form anti-Saudi economic block

An agreement was signed to boost trilateral trade and remove obstacles to the movement of goods. Iranian products exported to the emirate grew by 27 per cent. Doha's goal is to reach US$ 5 billion annually. Qatar’s foreign exchange reserves drop by 25 per cent.

Tehran (AsiaNews) – Iran, Turkey and Qatar signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) today to boost trilateral trade and reduce related costs. This will enable them to face jointly their common enemy, Saudi Arabia.

The three governments want to remove obstacles to the transit of goods from Iran and Turkey to Qatar, which for months has been at the centre of a political, diplomatic and economic dispute with other Gulf countries.

Iranian Minister for Industry, Mines and Trade Mohammad Shariatmadari, Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci, and Qatari Economy Minister Ahmad Bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani signed the agreement on Sunday.

The parties also decided to set up a joint working group tasked with meeting three times a year in order to facilitate trade and transport ties as per the agreement.

The ties between Qatar and Shia Iran are one of the reasons that led a group of Sunni countries – Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UE), as well as Egypt and Yemen – to end trade and diplomatic relations with Qatar, which they accuse of supporting extremism.

Since the start of the crisis, Ankara and Tehran – whose relations have improved in recent months – have come to Qatar's rescue, by helping it overcome the isolation imposed by the Arab bloc thanks to greater exports of goods and foodstuffs.

According to official sources, the agreement will ensure the expansion of economic and trade cooperation among the three nations and will facilitate the movement of products from Iran and Turkey to Qatar.

In the first six months of the Iranian year (from 21 March to 22 September), transit in goods via Iran to the emirate jumped by 27 per cent over the same period last year.

Iranian Minister of Mohammad Shariatmadari said that the current level of annual trade between Iran and Qatar was below billion; Doha’s proposal would see it increase to as high as billion annually. 

Meanwhile, international reports have confirmed that Qatar’s economy has been under pressure for the last five months after the Gulf diplomatic crisis first arose. 

A study conducted by Coface Company in June 2017 stressed that the prolongation of the diplomatic crisis between Qatar and its neighbours would cause great challenges in the medium term for Qatar’s economy. 

In fact, Qatar’s foreign exchange reserves have declined 25 per cent since September according to official data released by Qatar’s National Bank this month. 

The data shows that the foreign exchange reserves declined by US$ 1.6 billion in September. The same month last year they amounted to US$ 47.7 billion.