Capital Intelligence Ratings lowers Bahrain’s sovereign ratings

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Rating agency Capital Intelligence Ratings on Saturday lowered Bahrain’s long-term foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings to ‘BB-’ from ‘BB’, a statement from the agency said.

At the same time, the rating agency affirmed the sovereign’s short-term foreign and local currency rating at ‘B’. The outlook for all ratings remains negative.

CI expects that the Kingdom’s fiscal and external balances would weaken significantly over the next 12 months due to the impact of lower oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic.

The rating agency also said the current volatility and risk aversion in global financial markets would hamper Bahrain’s capacity to secure the funds needed to cover its large financing needs. The downgrade also takes into account the decline in the country’s net external asset position, large pressures on its modest level of international assets, and limited capacity to withstand a prolonged period of low oil prices.

Read more: Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar outlook changed to negative: Moody’s

Bahrain’s credit metrics are largely influenced by developments in the oil market, with the commodity currently accounting for around 18 percent of GDP, 75 percent of fiscal revenues, and 60 percent of exports.

Capital Intelligence Ratings said refinancing risks had increased since the previous review due to weaker public finances and higher volatility in capital markets.

In 2019, Bahrain government implemented a number of fiscal consolidation measures, including the introduction of VAT, which saw the budget deficit decline to 8 percent of GDP, from 11.9 percent in 2018. The government also had uninterrupted access to international markets enabling it to actively manage its balance sheet.

“However, the large decline in hydrocarbon prices alongside the global spread of the coronavirus disease and the subsequent measures to contain its economic and social impact are expected to reverse the positive trend,” the statement said.

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