Saudi Arabia Economic Forecast

Saudi Arabia Economic Outlook

February 5, 2019

While the economy appears to have ended 2018 on a solid footing, prospects for this year are quickly deteriorating. This is predominantly the consequence of oil production cuts agreed in December among OPEC+ countries, which will drag on GDP growth this year. That said, the oil production caps have started to boost oil prices, which should shore up government revenues somewhat. Moreover, the economy remains constrained by the government’s Saudization policy, which intends to boost the number of jobs for Saudis in the private sector by imposing labor restrictions on foreigners. According to analysts, the amount of expat jobs in the country—especially in the retail sector—declined by around 1.5 million people in the 2017–2018 period; the unemployment rate among Saudis in the same period has nevertheless remained virtually unchanged, hovering around 13%.

Saudi Arabia Economic Growth

Despite greater fiscal support, the economic recovery is likely to lose some steam this year as an uncertain global oil outlook, oil production cuts in compliance with the OPEC+ deal and negative spillovers from the Saudization policy are expected to hit economic activity. Moreover, key economic reforms appear to have stalled, which threatens long-term economic growth in the country. Our panel expects growth of 1.9% in 2019, which is down 0.3 percentage points from last month’s projection, and 2.2% in 2020.

Saudi Arabia Economy Data

20132014201520162017
Population (million)30.030.831.031.732.4
GDP per capita (USD)24,89224,57721,09520,31321,120
GDP (USD bn)747756654645684
Economic Growth (GDP, annual variation in %)2.73.74.11.7-0.7
Consumption (annual variation in %)3.26.16.82.22.0
Investment (annual variation in %)5.67.53.7-14.4-7.0
Industrial Production (annual variation in %)0.23.15.02.4-2.3
Unemployment Rate5.65.85.75.65.9
Fiscal Balance (% of GDP)6.4-2.3-14.8-12.9-8.9
Public Debt (% of GDP)2.11.65.813.117.1
Money (annual variation in %)11.114.62.43.6-1.0
Inflation Rate (CPI, annual variation in %, eop)2.51.91.31.0-1.1
Inflation Rate (CPI, annual variation in %)3.52.21.22.1-0.8
Policy Interest Rate (%)2.002.002.002.002.00
Exchange Rate (vs USD)3.753.753.753.753.75
Exchange Rate (vs USD, aop)3.753.753.753.753.75
Current Account (% of GDP)18.19.8-8.7-3.72.2
Current Account Balance (USD bn)13573.7-56.7-23.815.2
Trade Balance (USD billion)22318444.355.8112
Exports (USD billion)376342204184221
Imports (USD billion)153158159128119
Exports (annual variation in %)-3.2-8.9-11.6-9.820.4
Imports (annual variation in %)8.13.30.5-19.8-6.6
International Reserves (USD)726732616536496
External Debt (% of GDP)12.313.113.819.8-  

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Saudi Arabia Facts

ValueChangeDate
Bond Yield2.490.0 %Jun 23
Exchange Rate3.750.0 %Feb 19
Stock Market0.21.00 %Feb 19

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