Saudi Q3 GDP growth at 6.8%, highest since 2012

A Saudi flag flutters atop the Saudi Arabia's embassy in Beirut
FILE PHOTO: A Saudi flag flutters atop the Saudi Arabia's embassy in Beirut, Lebanon October 30, 2021. REUTERS/Aziz Taher

November 9, 2021

DUBAI (Reuters) -Saudi Arabia’s economy grew 6.8% in the third quarter from a year earlier, the fastest expansion since 2012, official data showed on Tuesday, as the world’s top oil exporter benefits from rebounding global energy demand.

“This positive growth was due to the high increase in oil activities by 9.0% as a result of rising world demand for crude oil and the increase of Saudi production in 2021,” said the General Authority for Statistics, based on flash estimates.

Seasonally adjusted real gross domestic product (GDP) grew 5.8% quarter-on-quarter on the back of 12.9% growth in oil activities, it said.

The largest Arab economy was hit hard last year by the twin shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic and record-low oil prices.

The economy has rebounded this year, however, amid easing coronavirus-related restrictions, a vaccine roll-out and higher crude prices.

Non-oil activities posted 6.2% annual growth in the third quarter, the flash estimates showed.

“Saudi Arabia’s economic recovery looks to have picked up speed in Q3 and should remain strong over the rest of this year and 2022, underpinned by rising oil output”, London-based Capital Economics said in a report last week.

“Looking ahead, as oil production rises, virus restrictions are relaxed further, and the government leans towards loosening fiscal policy, the recovery is likely gather momentum”, it said.

The Saudi government forecast in September economic growth of 2.6% this year and 7.5% in 2022, saying projections for 2022 were based on expectations of increased oil production starting in May next year as part of an OPEC+ agreement, global demand recovery and improvements in global supply chains.

(Reporting by Davide Barbuscia; Editing by Sam Holmes and Kim Coghill)