Following is the transcript of CNBC's exclusive interview with Ahmed Bin Jassim Al-Thani, Qatar's economic minister. This interview broadcasted on CNBC's Power Lunch on Monday, 18 September.
All references must be sourced to a "CNBC Interview".
Q. Mr Thani, good to have you here. How's it going with the blockade, what's it doing to the economy of your country?
Al-Thani: Better than ever.
Q: It's better than ever? No effect?
Al-Thani: You know we would have been planning for, if anything to happen like this, we would have a plan to deal with any blockade from our neighbor as you know in 2014, we have some diplomatic also problem with our neighbors, we said it might come again in different form that's why we have a very clear plan. The blockade from their side blocks the land border, we know exactly what we are importing from the land border. We have alternative road, alternative supply of goods from different countries all around the world. We activated the supply immediately in the first few hours and the consumers or people who live there never felt anything in terms of supplying goods, food and consumer goods and all this from different route. In fact, it's an opportunity for us because we discovered a new market and we opened a new route, we opened a route with Turkey, with Kuwait, with Oman, with other countries all around the world. And immediately, all the goods that we used to import through the land border was, has been diverted through the sea and the air immediately. And we are one of the biggest petrochemical exporter in the world. Never missed a ship because of a blockade and all our exports are on schedule.
Q: You mentioned Iran. One of the reasons for the blockade is your neighbors think you are too conciliatory to Iran. Are you?
Al-Thani: For example, UAE trade more than 20 billion dollars with Iran annually. We have less than 200, 2 million annually so in terms of, we are less than 200 million annually. So in terms of trade, the numbers talked. In fact, we were very conservative in terms of trading with Iran. We are trading with other countries around the world but with Iran, we are sharing the biggest gas fields so we are in continuous discussion with Iran about how to manage such a field. Plus, as you know that Qatar is a peninsula surrounded by all these three countries and after the blockade, the only route for our flight was north to Iran and then goes all around the world so this was the only corridor open for us. But in terms of economic situation in Qatar, most of our exports and trade happen through the sea or the air, both of them never been affected. We are the biggest LNG supplier in the world.
Q: When Americans google Qatar, they're going to read that you support the Muslim Brotherhood. Why?
Al-Thani: You know, Qatar's position in terms of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood? Qatar is a country. We don't deal with groups. We deal with countries. If you need an example...
Q: So you don't support the Muslim Brotherhood?
Al-Thani: Well we support countries, however democratically elected or however the system they choose. Example, Tunisia. Tunisia was governed by Muslim Brotherhood, and Qatar supported Tunisia. And when they are now supported by other groups, we continue supporting Tunisia. And so forth for Egypt and..
Q: What about in Egypt?
Al-Thani: Also the same. After what happened in the revolution, Qatar supported all the governments there. Supported the military, the transition government and all others, regardless of who was in power.
Q: Economically, you have a 15 per cent flat corporate tax rate, no personal income tax, no VAT, no wealth tax and the highest personal savings rate in the world How?
Al-Thani: It's heaven huh? We are blessed with a big reserve of gas. And we are using this gas for the wellbeing of our people. That is why the Qatari people live in one of the best standards in the world when it comes to their living. In fact, when we talk about the economic situations of Qatar, it's "fire back" on the blockade countries. Because what they are exporting to us more than what we are exporting to them. So the trade balance is more towards them. So they lost the Qatari's market when it comes to exports. So this is one. Second is all the transit that went through the blockade country, they lost it also. All we have to do is find an alternative. That's why all of our projects are on schedule. The economic development is on schedule. In fact with a blockade work as an accelerator to implement the plan that's already in place by His Highness Emir of the state of Qatar. Himself managing the economic development.