Saudi GDP growth set to see uptick this year: SAMA

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Saudi Arabia’s economic growth is projected to see an uptick this year, backed by the non-oil economy, the country’s central bank governor said on Saturday.

Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) Governor Ahmed al-Kholifey, also said it was too early to see the full picture of the economic damage caused by the new coronavirus, which has emerged in China and spread globally.

He was speaking at an economic conference in Riyadh, where finance leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies are gathering this weekend to discuss economic policies and the impact of the virus on global economic growth.

The International Monetary Fund said in January it expects the Saudi economy to expand 1.9 percent this year, up from an estimated 0.4 percent in 2019. However, it lowered its forecast for the Kingdom’s 2020 growth from 2.2 percent due to lower oil output.

“We have a positive view on the Saudi economy, the forecasts are positive and growth is expected to be higher than last year, especially from the private sector,” Kholifey told reporters on the sidelines of the conference.

The comments came after the Institute of International Finance warned on Friday that the virus outbreak may curb demand for oil in China and other Asian countries, depressing crude prices further, to as low as $57 a barrel, and clouding growth prospects across the Middle East.

Even as the oil-based economy suffers, economists have said Saudi investments in non-oil infrastructure projects led by the Public Investment Fund will continue to support economic activity this year.

Saudi non-oil economic output grew 4.33 percent in the third quarter of 2019, even though the overall economy contracted by 0.46 percent, hit by a drop in oil production.

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