September 18, 2019 / 10:12 AM / 2 months ago

UPDATE 1-Saudi finmin sees weaker 2019 GDP growth due to OPEC-led cuts

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By Davide Barbuscia, Marwa Rashad and Hadeel Al Sayegh

RIYADH, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s economic growth in 2019 will be significantly less than the kingdom had expected because of OPEC-led oil output cuts, but the attack on Aramco had “zero” impact on revenue, the country’s finance minister said on Wednesday.

“Total GDP is going to be significantly less than what we have forecasted,” Mohammed al-Jadaan told Reuters in an interview in Riyadh, referring to internal estimates.

Jadaan said the oil-driven GDP is influenced by Saudi Arabia’s lower petroleum output in the wake of an OPEC-led supply deal to support oil markets.

He did not give any projections for 2019 GDP growth in the Arab world’s largest economy, but the International Monetary Fund has said it could grow 1.9% in 2019, slower than 2.2% in 2018.

The Saudi central bank had said earlier this year the economy will grow no less than 2% in 2019.

Economists have said the kingdom may have to revise down economic growth estimates due to lower crude output, with some forecasting a contraction this year in the world’s biggest oil exporter.

Oil prices surged earlier this week after an attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities on Saturday knocked out more than 5% of global oil supply, but prices began to ease on Tuesday after Saudi Arabia said it would restore production lost by the end of the month.

WITHOUT INTERRUPTION

Jadaan said Aramco continues to supply oil to the markets without interruption, which meant there is no interruption to oil revenue.

“Our focus is on non-oil GDP, that’s where diversification is,” he said, saying non-oil GDP is expected to grow at 2.9% in 2019.

He said royalties and taxes are expected to be same from Aramco this year.

Jadaan also said Saudi Arabia is likely to issue dollar-denominated sukuk, depending on market conditions.

He said the Aramco IPO is moving ahead as planned and will most likely happen over the next 12 months.

Aramco’s primary listing will be on Tadawul in Riyadh, but the government is still considering a secondary listing overseas, he said. (Reporting by Davide Barbuscia, Marwa Rashad, and Hadeel Al Sayegh; Writing by Saeed Azhar, Editing by Sylvia Westall, William Maclean)

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