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Country Forecast Saudi Arabia April 2018

Country Forecast Saudi Arabia April 2018

  • April 2018
  • ID: 486622
  • Format: PDF
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit

Summary

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Policy towards private enterprise and competition


2018-19: The state retains a leading role in the economy. A slew of parastatals are privatised, mainly through initial public offerings on the stockmarket, and a small stake in the state oil company, Saudi Aramco, is sold off, probably in late 2018.


2020-22: The government steps up anti-monopoly legislation, in an effort to expedite private-sector development.


Policy towards foreign investment


2018-19: Following a lift in the maximum share that foreign firms are permitted to own in retail sector projects to 100% in 2016, a similar loosening of restrictions is rolled out across several other non-oil sectors.


2020-22: Work begins on several mega-projects, including the Neom high-tech city, which will offer less restrictive rules for foreign investors and residents.


Foreign trade and exchange controls


2018-19: The currency peg remains in place. Despite the existence of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) common market, little progress is made on legal harmonisation.


2020-22: The weak oil price continues to exert downward pressure on the riyal, but the authorities refuse to impose capital controls in order to avoid overly harming the business climate.


Taxes


2018-19: Power and water tariffs rise, and fuel prices are brought into line with international markets. Alongside its GCC allies, Saudi Arabia introduces value-added tax (VAT), at a rate of around 5%.


2020-22: Despite being mooted in the National Transformation Plan, income tax for foreign workers is not introduced.


Financing


2018-19: Stockmarket activity is lifted by a raft of privatisations and an easing of rules on share ownership by foreigners.


2020-22: Standards of corporate governance improve slowly. The bond and mortgage markets develop from a low base.


The labour market


2018-19: The labour law is amended to make private-sector employment more attractive to Saudis by, for instance, raising wages and making employment more appealing to women.


2020-22: Labour market reform for Saudis increasingly focuses on the quality of jobs rather than their quantity, and "green cards" are introduced for long-standing and skilled foreign Arab residents.


Infrastructure


2018-19: Despite lower oil prices, a number of major projects in infrastructure (power, water and transport) proceed with government support. A massive, state-led programme to build 500,000 residential units produces its first new homes.


2020-22: In order to draw in increased private-sector investment in infrastructure, the government steps up the use of public-private partnerships.


Technological readiness


2018-19: Government advances Vision 2030 targets for boosting internet penetration across households.


2020-22: Saudi Telecoms Company rolls out 5G network in collaboration with Finland's Nokia.



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