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Country Forecast Australia October 2017 Updater

Country Forecast Australia October 2017 Updater

  • October 2017
  • ID: 325619
  • Format: PDF
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit


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  • The next general election is due by November 2019, but an early poll looks possible. The ruling Liberal-National coalition's slim parliamentary majority and internal divisions raise the likelihood that the prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, could be forced to go to the electorate before his term is finished. The chance of an early election has risen in the wake of a controversy in which a number of legislators were found to have dual nationality, something that the constitution forbids. We expect that the ruling Liberal-National coalition will lose power to the opposition Labor Party at the next election.
  • 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 estimated equivalent of 1.7% of GDP in 2017 to 0.7% by 2022.
  • Despite weaker external demand from China in 2018, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA, the central bank) will refrain from cutting policy interest rates in 2018-19 amid concerns about property price inflation and increased imported inflation as the local currency weakens. Rates will begin to increase only from 2020 as domestic demand strengthens.
  • We forecast that real GDP will continue to grow, but the average annual growth rate in 2018-22, at 2.3%, will be slightly weaker than the average over the previous decade (2.5%). Export growth will cool in line with the weaker economic performance in China, Australia's main export market. However, an expanding population will provide support to domestic demand growth.
  • At an average of 2.4% per year in 2018-22, inflation will remain comfortably within the RBA's 2-3% target range. Improving domestic demand conditions will add to price pressures in the later years of the forecast period.
  • 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. We expect the current-account deficit to average the equivalent of 2.7% of GDP annually in 2018-22.

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