Middle East

UAE

Gulf to outperform

Economic recoveries in the Gulf will continue to gather pace over the coming year on the back of successful vaccine rollouts and higher oil output, and our GDP growth forecasts lie above the consensus. Outside the Gulf, though, recoveries are likely to be slower, particularly in the more tourism-dependent economies. We think a sovereign default in Tunisia is more likely than not, and we have long-standing worries about public debt in Bahrain and Oman as well as Dubai’s corporate debts.

19 October 2021

Supply shortages take their toll

The supply shortages that have affected many DMs have also intensified in emerging economies over the past couple of months. The automotive sector has been hit hard by global semiconductor shortages, weighing on recoveries in Mexico, Czechia and Hungary in particular. More broadly, EM manufacturers are struggling to meet new orders, causing backlog of works to increase. Meanwhile, recent power shortages have weighed on recoveries in China, India and Brazil. As shortages continue, they are likely to not just weigh on growth, but also add to upward pressure to core inflation. That will probably keep central banks in Latin America and Central Europe in particular in tightening mode.

18 October 2021

Egypt and UAE inflation, OPEC+, austerity in Algeria

Inflation figures for Egypt showed the headline rate jumped to a 20-month high in September and we think that this will delay a turn towards interest rate cuts. Elsewhere, the UAE emerged from deflation in August amid signs that the property sector has turned a corner. But disappointing news on the number of visitors to the World Expo reinforce our bearish view on the sector. Meanwhile, the rally in oil prices has ratcheted up the pressure on the OPEC+ to raise output quotas, which would most likely involve higher quotas for the Gulf. Finally, Algeria’s turn to fiscal austerity is unlikely to be enough to prevent a sharp devaluation in the coming years.

14 October 2021
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China’s long-term property decline: the fallout for EMs

Irrespective of how the current problems in China’s property sector are resolved, property construction there is entering a period of structural decline. Among other EMs, the main effects will be felt in metals producers in Latin America and Africa, adding to reasons to expect weak long-term growth in countries such as Brazil and South Africa. In view of the wider interest, we have made this Emerging Markets Update available to clients of our Long Run Service

Whole Economy PMIs (Sep.)

September’s batch of whole economy PMIs showed that recoveries in non-hydrocarbon private sectors in Saudi Arabia and Qatar gathered pace as domestic activity strengthened on the back of easing virus restrictions. In contrast, recoveries in Egypt and the UAE appear to have eased a touch at the start of Q3.

Oil rallies, Bahrain VAT hike, Tunisia gets a new PM

The price of oil hit its highest level in nearly three years this week and, combined with rising oil output, will help support an improvement in budget and current account positions in the Gulf. This could open the door for some governments to loosen fiscal policy. Bahrain looks set to be an exception and tighten policy by doubling the rate of VAT. Elsewhere, Tunisia’s President Kais Saied unveiled his prime minister nearly two months after his power grab. Even if a new government is formed soon, there is growing concern that addressing Tunisia’s poor public finances is not on the agenda.

Rise in inflation to prove short-lived

Inflation in many economies in the region has risen to multi-year highs in recent months. In general, this has been driven higher by a combination of unfavourable base effects from the pandemic, as well as some re-opening inflation and the effects of rising global commodity prices. In Oman, those effects have been compounded by the introduction of VAT in April. Most of the drivers appear to be transient and inflation is likely to slow again over 2022-23 and, in Egypt, this is likely to bring interest rate cuts back on to the agenda. One key exception is Lebanon, where inflation is already running at over 100% and will remain elevated amid the effects of the collapse in the pound and the repeal of subsidies.

Dubai World Expo: near-term boost, debt risks linger

The long-awaited World Expo in Dubai will get underway next Friday and while there is likely to be some boost to the economy, this will be short lived. What’s more, as we have long warned, the Expo could leave high rates of overcapacity in Dubai’s real estate and hospitality sectors in its wake that could ultimately re-ignite concerns about the debts of the Emirate’s government-related entities.

23 September 2021
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