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Country Forecast Australia May 2018 Updater

Country Forecast Australia May 2018 Updater

  • May 2018
  • ID: 1195303
  • Format: PDF
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit


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  • The next general election is due by November 2019. The rise in tensions in recent months between the governing coalition partners-the Liberal Party and the National Party-makes it less likely that they will risk calling an election. While an early poll is possible, The Economist Intelligence Unit believes that the likelihood of it being held in the near term has faded. We expect Labor to win the next election, regardless of when it is held.
  • Successive governments will remain generally open to foreign investment. However, restrictions on foreign investment in residential housing and agri-cultural land, and by foreign state-owned enterprises, are likely to be tightened, whichever party wins the next election.
  • We expect the government to miss its goal of returning the budget to surplus in fiscal year 2020/21 (July-June), as we expect economic growth to undershoot the Treasury's projections. We forecast that the fiscal deficit will narrow from the equivalent of 1.2% of GDP in 2018 to 0.3% of GDP in 2022.
  • We anticipate that the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA, the central bank) will keep monetary policy unchanged in 2018, raising the key policy interest rate, the cash rate, by 25 basis points in the first quarter of 2019. We expect the RBA to hold rates in 2020 as external conditions deteriorate, before gradually tightening monetary policy in 2021-22 as the outlook for the Australian economy improves and inflationary pressures start to re-emerge.
  • We forecast that real GDP will expand at a respectable rate in 2018-22, at 2.3% a year on average. Economic expansion will be supported by solid growth in government consumption and public investment and a pick-up in business investment in the latter half of the forecast period.
  • Consumer price inflation will average 2.4% on an annual basis in 2018-22, remaining within the RBA's 2-3% target range. A strengthening of the Australian dollar against its US counterpart in 2018-19 will reduce imported inflation.
  • Australia's external balance will remain closely tied to commodity prices, such as iron ore, coal and LNG, throughout the forecast period. Commodity export prices will pick up further in 2018, supporting the continuation of a trade surplus. Nonetheless, the current account will remain in deficit owing to the continuation of a sizeable income debit.

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