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Country Forecast Kuwait September 2017 Updater

Country Forecast Kuwait September 2017 Updater

  • September 2017
  • ID: 1698492
  • Format: PDF
  • By The Economist Intelligence Unit


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  • The Economist Intelligence Unit expects the Al Sabah family to remain in power in 2017-21, with internal differences over the political succession likely to spill over into parliamentary affairs. There is a risk in the short term that unpopular austerity measures may increase social instability. This would lead to an intensification of the ongoing crackdown on dissent.
  • Kuwait will maintain close relations with the US and its Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) neighbours. Threats posed by extreme jihadi groups and Shia Iran will lead, in particular, to increasingly strong security ties with the GCC in 2017-21. We expect Kuwait to continue to pursue attempts to reduce tensions in the Gulf, most noticeably by seeking to mediate the Qatar crisis.
  • There will be significant political opposition to ongoing government attempts to reform Kuwait's generous subsidy system. Labour strikes are also likely, keeping the pace of reform slower than in some of Kuwait's GCC neighbours. Given that many of the major projects in the government's five-year development plan are under way, executive-legislative relations will have less of an impact on capital spending in the short term.
  • With oil prices recovering only gradually, the fiscal deficit will remain large, with public debt rising as a consequence, albeit from low levels. A slight recovery in oil prices as the forecast period progresses will narrow the deficit to 4.2% of GDP in fiscal year 2021/22 (April-March).
  • After contracting by 1.2% in 2017, real GDP is forecast to recover only weakly in 2018, hampered by lower oil production. However, growth will accelerate in 2019-21 to an annual average of 3.4%, supported by rising oil production and the completion of some major infrastructure projects. The hydrocarbons sector will also benefit from extra refining capacity in the later stages of the forecast period.
  • We expect consumer price inflation to average around 3% a year over the forecast period. Subsidy reform is likely to push up inflation, albeit only slowly, while demand-side pressures will pick up gradually.
  • The current account is projected to return to surplus in 2017, after its first deficit since the 1990s was recorded in 2016. The non-merchandise account will remain heavily in deficit in 2017-21, but this will only partly offset the large trade surplus, which will continue to be supported by oil revenue. We expect the current-account surplus to average 5.7% of GDP in 2017-21.

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