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  • 1
    Language: English
    Pages: 1 Online-Ressource
    Series Statement: Economic Updates and Modeling
    Keywords: Economic Growth ; Gender ; Gender and Development ; Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) ; Macroeconomics and Economic Growth ; Saudi Arabia ; Women ; Women and Labor
    Abstract: The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) economies have been a bright spot in an otherwise gloomy economic landscape. Average growthin the GCC surpassed 7 percent in 2022 led by Saudi Arabia, its biggest economy, which was globally the fastest growing large economy. This growth was not just a result of buoyant hydrocarbon prices but also continued growth of non-oil sectors. The latter was the result of persistent structural reforms undertaken by several GCC countries to improve the investment environment, promote flexible labor markets, and encourage women to join the labor market. GCC countries have used the windfall revenues from oil and gas to rebuild their buffers, pay down their debt, and shore-up their sovereign wealth funds. They have also sought to protect their vulnerable populations with continued subsidies on food, fuel, and utilities. Such policies have limited the impact of inflation on the domestic economy. Finally, GCC countries have also used their financial muscle to support economically weaker countries in the region. The stellar growth of 2022 is slowing down and growth is expected to moderate to 1 percent in 2023 before picking up again to 3.6 percent in 2024. The decline in economic activity in 2023 is driven by consecutive production cut decisions by OPEC+ in an effort to stabilize global oil prices. However, non-oil GDP continues its growth trajectory reaching 3.9 percent, resulting weaker integration between oil and non-oil sectors. To maintain this track record, GCC countries will need to continue to exercise prudent macroeconomic management, stay the course with structural reforms, and increase non-oil exports. Downside risks remain and it would be amiss not to mention them. The conflict in the Middle East presents major risks to the region and the GCC outlook if it extends or expands to include other regional players. While it is too early to quantify the impact and channels of the conflict, we already witness a 4 percentsurge in global oil futures. Although China is bouncing back after emerging from tight Covid-19 lockdowns, troubles in the real estate sector could still disrupt this trajectory. Persistent high inflation in the world's major economies has not been entirely vanquishedsuggesting a high interest rate environment for a longer period. Windfall revenues are anticipated as a result of higher oil prices driven by the conflict in the Middle East. However, the extent and duration of the conflict will play a pivotal role in determining economicramifications not only on energy markets but also on regional financial and trade markets and overall economic confidence. The Special Focus section of the report discusses the power of structural reforms and social norms in advancing female labor force participation in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia experienced an unprecedented surge in female labor force participation since 2016 as a result of: (i) changing regulations and the removal of legal barriers, shifting social norms, (ii) the implementation of sound structural reforms and (iii) effective government communications. Saudi Arabia's success in increasing female labor force participation from 17.4 percent in 2017 to 36 percent in 2023 offers important lessons to other countries in the region and the world
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