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Country Forecast Kuwait March 2018 Updater

Country Forecast Kuwait March 2018 Updater

  • March 2018
  • ID: 5365395
  • Format: PDF
  • By The Economist Intelligence Unit

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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.
  • Policymaking will be constrained by tensions between the legislature and executive. 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 expected to average US$61.5/barrel in 2018-19, fiscal pressure on the government will decline sharply. As the forecast period progresses, privatisation of state assets, in addition to a further recovery in oil prices from 2021, 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 returned to surplus in 2017 after recording its first deficit since the 1990s in 2016. The surplus will widen to an average of 9.5% of GDP throughout 2018-22, as oil prices show a relatively strong recovery. 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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