GCC economies to record negative real GDP growth in 2020: IMF

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The Middle East and Central Asia region is projected to contract by 2.8 percent in 2020, while the oil exporters in the region, primarily the GCC countries, are expected to post an aggregate negative growth of 3.9 percent, according to the IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook report.

Saudi Arabia’s growth is forecast at -2.3 percent, with non-oil GDP contracting by 4 percent. In the United Arab Emirates, real GDP growth is forecast to slip by 3.5 percent real compared to 1.3 percent recorded in 2019.

Qatar’s real GDP is projected to fall by 4.3 percent in 2020 while Oman’s is projected to decline by 2.8 percent compared to 0.5 percent in 2019.

In the region, Kuwait fared better with a projected growth of -1.1 percent compared to 0.7 percent in 2019.

Read more: GCC to witness exit of expatriate workers due to coronavirus: Experts

The IMF said the global economy will sharply contract by 3 percent in 2020 due to the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. The forecast is marked down by more than 6 percentage points relative to the October 2019 WEO and January 2020 update - an extraordinary revision over such a short period of time.

“The world has changed dramatically in the three months since our last World Economic Outlook update on the global economy,” said Gita Gopinath, Economic Counsellor of the IMF.

Read more: Coronavirus: With 15,000 cases in the Gulf, here is how GCC states are coping

“This crisis is like no other. First, the shock is large. The output loss associated with this health emergency and related containment measures likely dwarfs the losses that triggered the global financial crisis.”

However, in 2021 the IMF has forecast a relatively stronger rebound for the regional economies, with an overall real GDP growth of 4.6 percent . The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are projected to grow 3.3, 2.9 and 3.4 percent respectively. Qatar’s economy is expected to grow 5 percent in 2021 while that of Oman is forecast to grow by 3 percent.

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