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Country Forecast Australia September 2017 Updater

Country Forecast Australia September 2017 Updater

  • September 2017
  • ID: 1698357
  • Format: PDF
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit


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  • The Liberal-National coalition emerged from the July 2016 election weakened; it currently has a one-seat majority in the House of Representatives (the lower house of parliament) and falls ten votes short of the 39 required to pass legislation unilaterally in the 76-seat Senate (the upper house).
  • The prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, is struggling to control the right wing of his Liberal Party, which continues to trail the main opposition Labor Party in opinion polls. A change in government is likely over the forecast period. The next general election is due by November 2019, but periodic policy gridlock means that an early poll is possible.
  • The government will remain generally open to foreign investment. However, stricter limits on foreign investment in new and existing residential housing and agricultural land, and by foreign state-owned enterprises, will make overseas investors more cautious.
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit believes that the government will not achieve its goal of a balanced budget in fiscal year 2020/21 (July-June), as a weak global economic environment will weigh on revenue growth. We expect the fiscal deficit to narrow from the equivalent of 2% of GDP in 2016 to 0.9% by 2021.
  • Monetary policy will remain accommodative. We forecast that the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA, the central bank) will cut its main policy interest rate, the official cash rate, in 2018 as the global economic outlook weakens. The RBA is unlikely to begin tightening monetary policy before late 2019 at the earliest.
  • We forecast that real GDP will continue to grow at a below-trend rate of 2.5% a year on average in 2017-21, reflecting relatively subdued global demand. Growth will be supported by expanding mining production capacity, support from further monetary easing and a weaker Australian dollar.
  • Consumer price inflation will rise to an average of 2% in 2017, from 1.3% in 2016, reflecting higher energy prices. At an average of 2.2% per year in 2018-21, inflation will remain comfortably within the RBA's 2-3% target range.
  • Renewed weakness in prices for Australia's industrial commodity exports, combined with a persistent primary income deficit, will ensure that the current account remains in the red. Relatively low global interest rates over 2017-21 will limit the shortfall to the equivalent of 2.8% of GDP on average.

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