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Country Forecast Kuwait February 2018 Updater

Country Forecast Kuwait February 2018 Updater

  • February 2018
  • ID: 5313196


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  • The Economist Intelligence Unit expects the Al Sabah family to remain in power in 2018-22, 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.
  • We expect Kuwait to pursue attempts to reduce tensions in the Gulf, most noticeably by seeking to mediate the Qatar crisis. However, the formation of a separate military and trade bloc by the UAE and Saudi Arabia suggests that disunity in the region will continue to deepen.
  • Tensions between the legislature and the executive in the National Assembly will constrain policymaking. However, given that many of the major projects in the government's five-year development plan are under way, strains in executive-legislative relations will have less of an impact on capital spending in the short term.
  • With oil prices rising relatively strongly, fiscal pressure on the government will decline in 2018-19. As the forecast period progresses, privatisation of state assets, in addition to a further recovery in oil prices, will push the budget deficit down to 2.4% of GDP in fiscal year 2022/23 (April-March).
  • After contracting by 1.2% in 2017, real GDP is forecast to expand only modestly in 2018, hampered by lower oil production. However, growth will accelerate to an annual average of 3.4% in 2019-22, supported by rising oil production and the completion of some major infrastructure projects. The hydrocarbons sector will also benefit from additional refining capacity in the later stages of the forecast period.
  • We expect consumer price inflation to average 3.2% a year over the forecast period. Implementation of value-added tax (VAT) and subsidy reforms are likely to push up inflation, albeit only slowly, and demand-side pressures will pick up gradually.
  • The current account will return to surplus in 2017 after recording its first deficit since the 1990s in 2016. The surplus will widen further in 2018, to 9.8% of GDP, as oil prices show a relatively strong recovery, and we expect it to average 9.5% of GDP in 2019-22. The non-merchandise account, however, will remain in deficit, with the shortfall rising in absolute terms throughout 2018-22, as the services deficit continues to grow.

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