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Country Report Australia October 2017

Country Report Australia October 2017

  • October 2017
  • ID: 359626
  • Format: PDF
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit

Summary

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Outlook for 2018-22



  • The ruling Liberal-National coalition has a slim majority and is beset by internal divisions, which will continue to weigh on political stability. An early election is possible, and a change in government is likely in 2019.
  • A crossbench made up of smaller parties and independents will continue to hold the balance of power in the Senate (the upper house of parliament), hindering the government's ability to set the agenda and pass key measures.
  • The budget for fiscal year 2017/18 (July-June) projects a return to surplus in 2020/21. The Economist Intelligence Unit expects the deficit to narrow by the end of the forecast period, but a return to surplus is not our forecast.
  • The Reserve Bank of Australia (the central bank) is expected to keep policy interest rates unchanged through 2018-19, despite a weaker external demand outlook, as imported inflation pressures will increase.
  • We forecast that real GDP will expand at a below-trend rate of 2.3% a year on average in 2018-22. Growth will be primarily driven by expanding household consumption, particularly in the later years of the forecast period.
  • The Australian dollar will average A$1.30:US$1 in 2017, before depreciating to an average of A$1.47:US$1 in 2019 as slower growth in China and softer prices for Australian commodity exports exert downward pressure on the currency.
  • The trade balance will switch back to deficit from 2018 as global commodity prices start to ease. We expect the current-account deficit to average the equivalent of 2.7% of GDP in the forecast period.


Review



  • On October 6th Nick Xenophon, leader of the Nick Xenophon Team (a minor party in the Senate), announced that he would quit federal politics to run for a seat in the parliament of South Australia.
  • Toyota of Japan, Australia's largest vehicle producer and best-selling car brand, ceased car production in Australia with the closure on October 3rd of its Altona manufacturing plant in the state of Victoria.
  • Employment increased by a seasonally adjusted 54,200 in August, the biggest monthly increase since March 2016, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stood at 5.6%.
  • Year-on-year growth in the value of retail sales slowed to 2.1% in August, its weakest in more than four years, according to seasonally adjusted ABS data.
  • The seasonally adjusted current-account deficit increased to A$9.6bn (US$7.7bn) in April-June 2017, according to the ABS. This was twofold the upwardly revised A$4.8bn shortfall recorded in the previous quarter.


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