DUBAI: US investment bank Goldman Sachs has significantly raised its expectations for Saudi Arabian growth this year and in 2022 amid soaring oil prices and rising crude output from the Kingdom.
Goldman analyst Farouk Soussa said that growth in the gross domestic product would reach 4.5 percent this year and 7 percent in 2022 — higher than most forecasts — with overall economic activity notably accelerating in manufacturing, finance and construction.
“With oil prices advancing well above $70 a barrel, we see risks to the oil sector as being significantly skewed to the upside and have increased our Saudi oil production assumptions by about 500,000 barrels a day to 10 million barrels by the end of this year, and 10.5 million on average in 2022,” Soussa said.
The new forecasts are further evidence that the Saudi economic recovery has taken off in 2021. At the start of the year, the Kingdom’s Ministry of Finance said that it expected 3.2 percent growth this year — reversing the pandemic-driven downturn of 2020. The International Monetary Fund forecast just 2.1 percent growth two months ago.
Soussa’s optimistic projections are based on detailed figures for the first quarter of 2020 that were released by authorities.
There has been a strong recovery in domestic demand by Saudi consumers, Soussa said, on the back of a “surge in gross capital formation” after the lockdown recession, when spending was impacted. Private consumption broke into positive territory for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
The effect of slower exports — reflecting the Kingdom’s voluntary cuts in oil exports in the early part of the year — continue to be felt. “The external account remains a drag on overall growth,” Soussa said.
Some experts believe that the Kingdom could launch a big increase in oil output and export in the later part of the year as global demand recovers, especially in major economic blocs in eastern Asia, Europe and the US.