MENA growth outlook ‘mixed’
The economic outlook for countries across the Middle East and North Africa region varies markedly, with oil exporters seeing good growth in 2011 and others experiencing a dramatic slowdown, an IMF report said.
The IMF’s Regional Economic Outlook for the Middle East and Central Asia, placed projects growth in the Middle East and North Africa region, including Afghanistan and Pakistan, at 3.9 percent in 2011, down from 4.4 percent in 2010.
The region’s oil-exporting countries (excluding Libya) – Algeria, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, the UAE and Yemen – are forecast to expand by 4.9 percent in 2011, thanks to higher oil prices and oil production. But growth among the region’s oil importers – Afghanistan, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Pakistan, Syria, and Tunisia –will register just under 2 percent, the report said.
Economic activity in the region’s oil-exporting countries has clearly improved, bolstered by continued high energy prices. This expansion is driven by the high level of activity in the countries of the GCC, where growth is projected at 7 percent in 2011, the report shows. UAE donated $760m in foreign aid.
The UAE disbursed Dh2.80 billion ($760 million) of foreign aid and committed Dh2.81 billion ($770 million) in 2010, benefiting more than 120 countries across the world, a report said. The UAE Foreign Aid 2010, the second annual report on the UAE’s humanitarian, development and charitable activities, comprises data from 31 UAE donor organisations, including the UAE government, foundations, the private sector and NGOs.
According to the report, the UAE’s foreign aid is characterised by the breadth and range of its projects, as donors collectively disbursed Dh2.80 billion in 2010 towards providing shelter and food to the homeless, fostering conflict resolution, building dams, highways, hospitals and schools, combating malaria, promoting renewable energy and protecting biodiversity. Oil, aluminium boost Bahrain GDP
Oil and aluminium is still the biggest contributor to Bahrain’s gross domestic product (GDP) and form most of the kingdom’s exports, according to the Economic Development Board’s (EDB) third quarter economic report.
Despite little or no gains in Bahrain’s oil production, higher prices have maintained the sector’s share of GDP at around 25 percent over the past decade, the report stated.
Oil and aluminium contributed 31 percent of total GDP or BD2.5 billion ($6.6 billion) to nominal GDP in 2010. “Bahrain has a relatively large trade to GDP ratio at 140 percent as of 2010,” the report said. “This high ratio is largely due to oil, which made up half of all trade in 2010. The contribution of oil and aluminium to trade is much larger, with at least half of foreign currency earned from trade in these sectors.”
“By including the contribution of oil to GDP, trade and indirect contributions, the total contribution of these sectors is estimated to be at least BD3.7 billion or 44 percent of GDP in 2010,” the report said. Qatar sees 2.5pc inflation this year Qatar’s central bank expects inflation this year of 2.5 percent, central bank governor Sheikh Abdullah bin Saud Al-Thani said.
Consumer price inflation in Qatar edged up to 2.2 percent on an annual basis in September, its highest level since at least the beginning of 2010. But it was still far from a record 15 percent seen in the oil-boom year of 2008.
Saudi business activity rebounds
Growth in business activity in Saudi Arabia’s non-oil private sector rebounded slightly in October from a series low in the previous month, boosted by a rise in new orders.
The Sabb HSBC Saudi Arabia Purchasing Managers’ Index, which measures activity in the Opec member’s manufacturing and services sectors, rose to 56.7 in October from 56.3 in September, which was the lowest level since the series was launched in August 2009.
September’s PMI was revised up from 54.5; data provider Markit said the revision followed new estimates for seasonality in a number of variables. It did not elaborate on the change.
The seasonally adjusted index for Saudi Arabia continues to hold above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction. Oman 32nd in competitiveness. In its latest Global Competitiveness Report, the World Economic Forum (WEF) ranks Oman 32 out of 142 countries, an improvement of two places from last year and nine places from 2009.
The report highlights Oman’s macroeconomic environment, high quality infrastructure and liberal tax regime as the main reasons for the rapid growth of economic potential.
With spending on building construction expected to reach more than $27 billion by 2014, according to recently published research by strategy consulting firm, Ventures, and initiatives from the government to increase the private sector’s role in the country’s economic development, Oman is on the right track to improve its competitiveness even further.