World Economy
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Mena Growth Will Fall Considerably

Saudi Arabia has started the sale of its first  riyal-denominated debt in 10 months.Saudi Arabia has started the sale of its first  riyal-denominated debt in 10 months.

Economic growth in the Middle East and North Africa is forecast to slow considerably over oil prices as the Saudi economy slides, the International Monetary Fund said on Monday.

After a better than expected performance with 5% growth in 2016, the economies of countries in the Middle East and North Africa as well as Pakistan and Afghanistan will subside to just 2.6% growth this year, it said, AFP reported.

Last year’s healthy regional economic performance was mainly attributed to Iran’s strong growth estimated at above 6.5% because of higher crude production, the IMF said.

In its World Economic Outlook update, the IMF lowered economic growth of Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, to just 0.1% in 2017, down 0.3% on its April projections. This will be Saudi Arabia’s worst growth since 2009 when its economy contracted by 2% on the slump of oil revenues following the global financial crisis.

“The recent decline in oil prices, if sustained, could weigh further on the outlook for the region’s oil exporters,” the IMF said.

After recovering to over $55 a barrel following a production reduction agreement by producers, oil prices receded on strong inventory levels and a pickup in supply.

The IMF projected that regional growth will rebound to 3.3% in 2018, however.

Saudi economic growth is also forecast to rebound to 1.1% next year, down 0.2 percentage points on April projections, it said. Saudi Arabia’s economy grew by 4.1% and 1.7% in 2015 and last year respectively.

Mena oil exporters have lost hundreds of billions of dollars since the mid-2014 crash in crude prices, transforming huge surpluses into shortfalls. They have since implemented some economic reforms that have included raising fuel and power prices.

The six (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council states (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman), which earn more than 70% of their revenue from energy, have been posting budget deficits since oil prices fell.

Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s biggest economy, started the sale of its first riyal-denominated debt in 10 months, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The kingdom’s three-part Islamic offering consists of bonds priced between 2.9 and 3% for five-year debt, 3.25 and 3.35% for seven-year notes and 3.55 and 3.65% for a 10-year issue, the people said, declining to be identified because the information isn’t public. Investors have until Monday to submit bids, they said, with one person adding that Saudi Arabia plans to raise as much as 25 billion riyals ($6.67 billion).

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