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Country Forecast Bahrain October 2017 Updater

Country Forecast Bahrain October 2017 Updater

  • October 2017
  • ID: 325628
  • Format: PDF
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit

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  • Bahrain will remain firm in its decision to be a part of the boycott of Qatar despite the threat it poses to the future of the Gulf co-operation council (GCC). In early June the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar over its alleged support for extremist groups. Saudi Arabia is Bahrain's key Gulf backer and any domestic unrest and economic uncertainty could oblige it to call on Saudi Arabia for increased support at some point in 2018-22. Therefore, the kingdom will maintain a diplomatic stance similar to that of its large neighbour over the forecast period.
  • The kingdom will face persistent social unrest throughout the forecast period, exacerbated hardline approach of the government, dominated by the Al Khalifa family, to the moderate opposition. The ruling family will, however, remain in power. Sectarian tensions between the Shia majority and the ruling Sunnis will persist, heightened by a mistrust of Shia Iran, which is considered a threat to the regime.
  • Government efforts to boost the local skills base and narrow the cost gap between expatriates and locals in the private sector will be stepped up as public-sector hiring slows. As a result, the government will take a tougher stance on enforcing "Bahrainisation" quotas, including fines for companies in violation. However, these efforts will be constrained by the tightness of the public finances and the private sector's reliance on expatriate labour.
  • Bahrain will maintain an open attitude towards foreign investment, allowing 100% foreign ownership of firms in the country, albeit in select sectors. However, its position as a regional financial centre relative to Dubai, in particular, will weaken over the forecast period. It will seek to provide best-practice regulation in its financial services sector and attract private investment in infrastructure, in an attempt to remain competitive with its GCC peers.
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit forecasts that real GDP growth will slow in 2018, owing mainly to cuts in state spending in the wake of the oil price slump, with knock-on effects on private consumption. Oil prices will pick up slightly in 2021. There will be a rise in export earnings in the later years of the forecast period on the back of higher aluminium and oil refinery capacity, leading to a decline in the country's current-account deficit, which we expect will narrow to 1.9% of GDP in 2022.






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Country Forecast Bahrain June 2018 Updater

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