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Qatar is now the richest country in the world. Petroleum and liquefied natural gas are the cornerstones of Qatar's economy and account for more than 70% of total government revenue, more than 60% of gross domestic product, and roughly 85% of export earnings. Proved oil reserves of 15 billion barrels should ensure continued output at current levels for 23 years. Oil has given Qatar a per capita GDP that ranks among the highest in the world. Qatar's proved reserves of natural gas exceed 7000 km3, more than 5% of the world total and the third-largest reserves of any country in the world. Production and export of natural gas are becoming increasingly important. Long-term goals include the development of off-shore petroleum and the diversification of the economy.
Before the emergence of petrol-based industry, Qatar was a poor pearl fishing country. The exploitation of oil and gas fields began in 1939. In 1973, oil production and revenues increased crucially, moving Qatar out of the ranks of the world's poorest countries and providing it with one of the highest per capita incomes in the world.
The government considers industry to be an integral part of its plan to diversify the economy and maximise its huge natural gas reserves, which serve as the primary feedstock for the sector. Accordingly, careful planning has gone into industrial development. With an eye towards exports, development has been clustered around the ports of Ras Laffan Industrial City and Mesaieed Industrial Area, which are key centers of energy. The result has seen considerable growth over the years. Industries Qatar (IQ), a producer of petrochemicals, fertilisers and steel, is a regional powerhouse, surpassed only in size by Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC), the Middle East's largest chemical producer. In 2007 the manufacturing sector made the third-largest contribution to GDP among non-oil and gas sectors, equivalent to about 7.5% of GDP. Petrochemicals and fertilizers supply make up a large portion of the industrial base, along with steel and other construction materials, through Qatar Steel and Qatar Primary Material Company (QPMC).
Qatar exports mostly liquefied natural gas and crude oil. Main exports partners of Qatar are Japan, South Korea and India. Others include China, Singapore, Twain and United Arab Emirates.
Qatar has prospered in the last several years with continued high real GDP growth. GDP was driven largely by the oil and gas sector however growth in the construction and financial services sectors have pushed the non-oil component to just over half of Qatar's nominal GDP for the first time since 2000.
Qatar main imports are transport equipment and parts, nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery and mechanical appliances and parts; base metals and articles thereof and electrical machinery and equipment and parts.
Main import partner of Qatar is USA. Other top import partners of Qatar are China, Japan, United Arab Emirates, Germany, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and Italy respectively. Major imports of Qatar include machinery, mechanical appliances, transport equipment, food and live animals, vegetable oils, fats and waxes, beverages as well as tobacco, crude materials, chemicals and related products, electrical machinery, equipment and parts. Prominent within these figures are items relating to transport (19%) and machinery (15%), as Qatar seeks to boost its large-scale infrastructure developments.
One of the areas where Qatar heavily depends on imports is food, as the country only produces about 10% - 15% of its demand, which naturally presents a food security issue. Biggest volumes come through Saudi Arabia and UAE, with this being one of the tricky aspects of a potential escalation of the GCC crisis, which has meanwhile calmed down. A closed border would however most likely present a challenge. Despite Qatar's diversification efforts, which have been on the agenda for decades, the country's manufacturing base has been slow to develop, that's why Qatar imports manufactured goods.