Qatar Targets AAA Credit Rating as Non-Oil GDP Expands

Qatar seeks to raise its credit rating by two levels to AAA, putting the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas on par with countries including Canada and Norway.

“We are working on AAA instead of AA,” Finance Minister Yousef Kamal told reporters in Doha today. “Our strength deserves AAA.” Qatar’s non-oil economic output will expand 9 percent this year, Kamal said, in line with International Monetary Fund estimates.

Bonds from Qatar and Abu Dhabi, which has the same rating, emerged as a refuge for investors amid Europe’s sovereign debt crisis. The cost of insuring Qatar’s dollar debt for five years, a measure of credit risk, dropped 45 basis points last year to 82, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The contracts declined another 20 basis points this year to 63.

Qatar will record a budget surplus of 8.5 percent of gross domestic product this year, the third biggest among the six- nation Gulf Cooperation Council after Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, according to IMF data. The government plans next year’s budget based oil priced at $65 a barrel, Kamal said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Tuttle in Doha at rtuttle@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss at sev@bloomberg.net

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