A British newspaper revealed that the Qatari government canceled a financial support of 300 million dollars annually for the Australian lamb industry, shortly after the incident of Australian women being examined at Hamad International Airport in Doha.
The Guardian newspaper said that the Qatari support program, worth $ 300 million, has been in place since 2015, and was scheduled to end in 2023, but the Qatari government took the sudden step to cancel the deal as of December 31, noting that the Qatari decision comes in The Australian agriculture and meat sector continued to falter due to the Chinese import ban.
The "Guardian" indicated that the sudden Qatari move comes after the Australian government recorded its rejection and extreme anger towards the treatment of Australian women who were subjected to forced medical examinations at Doha Airport last October..
Commenting on this, said Stephen Crisp, CEO of an Australian company called Sheep Producers Australia, If: ” The industrial sector in Australia was not expecting the decision, adding, “It was a surprise ... I don't think we were prepared for that“.
Crisp said that although the industry does not depend on the Qatari market, it will be affected by the decision, adding: “It is not a huge size, but it is an important market, but we do not want to see any decrease in our competitiveness in any market around the world.” The Australian meat industry is enjoying a positive relationship with Qatar, expressing hope that a decision will not be taken on diplomatic issues.
He continued, saying, “It will be more difficult, but I believe that our premium product should attract a market in Qatar.“.
The newspaper quoted sources familiar with the Australian industry that they are hesitant to link the Qatari government's decision to the controversy surrounding the treatment of 18 women, including 13 Australian citizens, at Hamad International Airport in Doha..
The Australian sources described the Qatari government’s decision as a “surprise blow”, but the Australian industry expected something like this in the long run as Qatar looks to increase competition and move towards relatively self-sufficiency..
For his part, Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham told the Australian "Financial Review" newspaper, that:
“Mutton exports to Qatar have not been banned, and that there is still demand for Australian lamb. “It is clear that Qatar is reviewing the state-backed import plan, including the transition to a model that is less state-controlled and more market-oriented,” he added.“.
“We expect Australia to witness competition for futures contracts under a new model, but there will be an ongoing demand for high-quality mutton in Qatar.“.
The Qatari decision comes at a time when charges have been brought against Doha Airport police officers who forced Australian female passengers to undergo forced checks after a newborn baby was found inside the airport bathroom..
And the British newspaper noted, that Qatar Airways did not apologize to women for this incident, while the accused are facing prison sentences..