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Kuwait’s Economic Outlook- Fall 2016

Growth was resilient in 2015 as rising output in the non-oil sector more than offset a contraction in the oil sector. Financial buffers remain large, but fiscal flow positions have sharply deteriorated, prompting fuel subsidy reform. Major infrastructure projects should continue to support growth in the near to medium term. Key challenges include the need to anchor fiscal sustainability, improve natural resource wealth management and economic diversification. Poverty is not an issue for Kuwaiti citizens.

Growth is expected to rise to 2.0% in 2016, firming to 2.6% in 2018. Activity should be supported by rising oil output (due to recent discoveries, improved production efficiencies, and as production from the Neutral Zone oilfield resumes in 2017). After years of stalled projects and delays, investment outlook has turned positive. The 2015/19 Development Plan also includes at least 8 major Public Private Partnership projects, which should support growth in the non-oil sector.
Public finances should remain under pressure as fiscal breakeven oil price, estimated at close to US$70/barrel, exceed current oil prices by a large margin. However, fiscal and current account positions should gradually strengthen in line with a modest recovery in oil prices and output. The baseline assumes gradual implementation of spending and revenue reforms including the implementation of a VAT in 2018.

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