Qatar, Major Issue but Not A Factor

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JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – The heating of political tension in the Middle East marked by the decision of several Arab countries (Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates/UAE, Bahrain, Egypt) to cut diplomatic relations with Qatar, boosts the risks of global uncertainty.

Coordinator Minister of Economics Darmin Nasution said Indonesia would only have less impact from Middle East tension, while noting that the country remains having an economic cooperation with Qatar, especially in oil and gas trade. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS) data, trading between Indonesia and Qatar reached US$915 million value in 2016, with US$743 million or 80 percent accounted for oil and gas trade.

“Currently, Qatar’s land access severed by Saudi. But there are opportunity to send LNG through the sea. It is international sea. So, I hope LNG import from Qatar will be not disturbed,” he said.

Darmin said the political crisis in Middle East may affect passenger flight, especially tourists visit to Indonesia. Tourism Minister Arif Yahya estimates that Indonesia may lose thousand of tourists from Middle Eastern as a consequence of boycott for Qatar Airways. While, Arif said, some 100,000 of potential investors from Middle East have been expected to visit Indonesia in the second half of this year.

Arief then said he will coordinate with the Transportation Ministry to transfer Qatar Airways license to other airlines, such as Emirates and Etihad. Boycott of Qatar ensues as over allegations of supporting terrorism, including by closing flight access of Qatar Airways into the countries.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the board of commissioners of the Financial Services Authority Muliaman Hadad affirmed that his side keeps an eye on Qatar’s exposure in Indonesia. OJK according to him will watch very closely on developments in the middle east.

“Being new attention and we are really over look and it turns out to this day the dynamics are quite high. This is a serious concern of OJK,” He said at his office.

For local stock market, the impact of Qatar issue was only short-lived as Jakarta Composite Index (JCI) fell 0.7 percent on June 7 the day after the emerge of the said issue but regained 0.17% in next day.

Investors at Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX) have main concerns on the British election situation, the testimony of former director of FBI James Comey, and the possibility of the The Federal Reserve to raise interest rate in the half of this month. Global markets also have mixed reaction over the fluctuation of oil price during the persistent political turmoil in the Middle East.

But for the Qatari joint-venture company in Indonesia, PT Indosat Ooredoo Tbk (ISAT), Qatar issue pushed down heavily ISAT shares by 8.6% in last two days trading. However, Head of Research at Bina Artha Securities, Reza

Priyambada said, the political tension in Middle East is not the single factor. ISAT shares trading, Reza said, has been earlier undermined by its 17 percent drop in net profit for the first quarter (Q1) of 2017. While, other Qatari company on IDX, PT Bank QNB Indonesia Tbk (IDX: BKSW) has no change in its stock performance so far.

Research Analyst at ForexTime (FXTM), Luqman Otunuga said, the fundamental economy of Indonesia still robust, driven by strong household consumption in second quarter of this year. However, he said, the escalation of global uncertainties this week, including Middle East crisis, has been leading investors into cautious.

“The geopolitical issues around the world are clearly making investors uneasy and this can reduce their appetite for investing in risky assets,” Luqman said.

The House of Representatives (DPR) fully supports the Indonesian government in encouraging seven Arab countries, which have cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, to employ a dialogue and reconciliation in solving problems.

Chairman of Commission I of DPR Abdul Kharis Almasyhari noted that the dialogue and reconciliation are the appropriate steps towards friendly countries. Almasyhari, expressed his concern on Qatar issue, as Qatar has a strategic role, also a source of foreign exchange reserves, for Indonesia.