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Country Forecast Australia March 2018 Updater

Country Forecast Australia March 2018 Updater

  • March 2018
  • ID: 5370290

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  • The next general election is due by November 2019. The Economist Intelligence Unit believes that the risk of an early election has subsided, owing to the increase in tensions between governing coalition partners-the Liberal Party and the National Party-following the resignation in February 2018 of the deputy prime minster, Barnaby Joyce.
  • The coalition continues to trail behind the main opposition Labor Party in opinion polls, making an early election less favourable for both Liberal and the Nationals. We continue to expect Labor to win the next poll, regardless of when it is held.
  • Successive governments will remain generally open to foreign investment. However, restrictions on foreign investment in residential housing and agri-cultural land, and by foreign state-owned enterprises, are likely to be tightened, whichever party wins the next election.
  • We expect the government to miss its goal of returning the budget to surplus in fiscal year 2020/21 (July-June), as a generally subdued global economic environment will weigh on revenue growth. We forecast that the fiscal deficit will narrow from the equivalent of 1.2% of GDP in 2018 to 0.4% in 2022.
  • We anticipate that the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA, the central bank) will keep monetary policy unchanged in 2018, raising the key policy interest rate, the cash rate, by 25 basis points in the first quarter of 2019. We expect the RBA to hold rates in 2020 as external conditions deteriorate, before gradually tightening monetary policy in 2021-22 as the outlook for the Australian economy improves and inflationary pressures start to re-emerge.
  • We forecast that real GDP will expand at a respectable rate in 2018-22, at 2.2% a year on average. In 2018-19 export growth will be supported by the improved economic outlook for China, Australia's main export market.
  • At an average of 2.3% per year in 2018-22, consumer price inflation will remain comfortably within the RBA's 2-3% target range. A strengthening of the Australian dollar against its US counterpart will reduce imported inflation in 2018-19, while improving domestic demand conditions will be the main source of price pressure in the later years of the forecast period.
  • Despite an improvement in the outlook for Australia's industrial commo-dity exports, a persistent primary income deficit will ensure that the current account remains in the red. We expect the current-account deficit to narrow gradually from 2020, however, to stand at the equivalent of 1.7% of GDP by 2022.


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