Libmonster ID: CN-1205
Author(s) of the publication: L. V. SHKVARYA

L. V. SHKVARYA

Doctor of Economics

The countries of the Persian Gulf - Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Saudi Arabia-have been united for 28 years in the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Persian Gulf (GCC), which was established on May 25, 1981. Over the years of its existence, thanks to its oil wealth, this association has made the greatest progress in the field of economic cooperation, and also in socio-economic development among the economic groupings of Asian and African countries.

In the context of the global financial and economic crisis, the economies of the Gulf States demonstrated relative stability due to the relatively stable global demand for energy resources and their relatively weak involvement in the global financial system.

However, since the summer of 2007, after the sharp decline in the US mortgage securities market, the countries of the region, as well as the world as a whole, have entered a period of increased uncertainty.

This is reflected in the growing volatility of stock markets, a temporary increase in commodity prices, especially food, fluctuations in the exchange rates of national currencies against major currencies of the world, and the reallocation of international financial flows.

RAPID GROWTH

After the "Asian" financial crisis of 1997-1998, the GCC countries advanced to the forefront of the world economy in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) growth rates. Their combined GDP increased from $280.996 billion in 1999 to $836.229 billion in 2007, and their share in the global gross product increased from 0.91% to 1.5% over the same period (see Table 1).

Table 1

GDP of the GCC countries in 1991-2007, in current prices, $ bn

 

1991

1999

2000

2004

2005

2006

2007

Bahrain

4,545

6,620

7,971

11,013

13,381

15,884

19,674

Kuwait

11,014

30,123

37,718

59,267

80,781

101,131

113,912

Oman

11,341

15,710

19,868

24,749

30,834

36,443

40,521

Qatar

6,884

12,393

17,760

31,734

72,463

52,722

66,735

Saudi Arabia

131,161

160,957

188,442

250,339

308,452

357,170

384,423

United Arab Emirates

33,914

55,193

70,522

104,204

133,583

178,826

210,964

GCC, total

198,859

280,996

342,281

481,306

639,494

742,176

836,229

GCC GDP growth rate, %

-

13,42

21,81

18,59

32,87

16,06

12,67

World gross product

23207,679

31017,512

31850,291

41595,458

44883,858

48516,862

54273,887

Share of GCC countries ' GDP in global GDP, %

0,86

0,91

1,07

1,16

1,4

1,5

1,5



Source: UNCTAD Handbook of Statistics, 2008. N.Y., Geneva, 2008.

page 14

GCC trade increased by 28% between 2000 and 2007, reaching 19.3% of all trade in region 1.

In 2008, the region's combined GDP exceeded $1 trillion (see Table 2).

Table 2

Macroeconomic indicators of the GCC countries in 2008

A country

Population million people.

Territory thousand km2

GDP

Export,

$ billion

Import,

$ billion

$ billion

per capita, $ thous.

United Arab Emirates

4,79

83,6

260,14

54,31

207,7

141,1

Bahrain

0,728

0,665

21,236

27,248

19,17

15,64

Saudi Arabia

28,69

2 149,7

481,63

19,345

311,1

92,4

Oman

3,418

212,46

52,58

18,988

33,9

13,32

Qatar

0,888

11,44

116,9

93,2

62,44

24,96

Kuwait

2,691

17,82

159,7

59,34

95,46

26,54

GCC

41,15

2475,7

1092,19

26,54

729,77

313,96

World

6706,99

50072

60689,8

9,05

16280,0

16190,0



Source: compiled and calculated by the author from: International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database, April 2009. Nominal GDP list of countries. Data for the year 2008.

As can be seen from the presented statistical data (tab. 2), in 2008, the top three Gulf countries with the highest GDP per capita were Qatar ($93.2 thousand), Kuwait ($59.34 thousand) and the United Arab Emirates ($54.3 thousand), followed by Saudi Arabia ($19.345 thousand) and Oman ($18.988 thousand). The average level is shown by Bahrain ($27,248 thousand). Therefore, we can talk about the continuing heterogeneity of the countries of the region in terms of socio-economic development.

At the same time, the countries of the region are characterized by the same type of national economy structures. Their economies are based on the largest hydrocarbon reserves (45% of the world's oil reserves and 40% of the world's gas reserves).*. In recent years, the financial component of the association has been growing, both at the regional and global levels. So, Bahrain positioned itself in the "common prosperity of the Gulf countries" as "a financial center of a liberal direction, which is attractive for investors, as well as for tourists, primarily from Saudi Arabia" (this is indicated in the special study " Economic Trends. Bahrain in 2008/2009")2. There are about 400 financial institutions in the kingdom today.

The core of the association, its hegemon, is Saudi Arabia, whose uniqueness lies not only in the presence of 1/4 of the world's oil reserves on its territory, but also in its great political weight in the Arab region and in the world. It exceeds all the countries of the region in terms of territory, population, and is also the religious center of the Muslim world.

According to the World Bank (WB) classification, the GCC countries are considered resource - rich importers of labor. These are oil-producing countries with fairly conservative monarchical regimes, all of which receive the vast majority of export revenues from oil production, production of petroleum products and their subsequent export**. Thus, the share of oil and petroleum products in Kuwait accounts for almost 50% of GDP and accounts for 95% of export revenues, in Qatar-more than 50% of GDP and 85% of exports, in Saudi Arabia-45% and 90%, respectively 3.

All countries in this group have made strenuous attempts to diversify their national economies with varying degrees of success. The UAE currently has the most diversified national economy in the region. The Emirates has already managed to reduce the share of oil in GDP to 25%. According to experts of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), 70% of the UAE's GDP and about 50% of its exports are not related to the extraction and processing of energy resources (tourism, financial services, construction). Oman plans to reduce the share of hydrocarbons in its economy to 9%by 2020.4

An analysis of the dynamics of GDP in the GCC Arab countries shows that economic growth has continued in this group for the past 6 consecutive years, and for the period from 1995 to 2008, this indicator as a whole for this subregion tripled (see Table 1). It is noteworthy that the increase in this indicator was more extensive than in the previous period. the global average for the same period.

As can be seen from the analysis of the presented statistical data, in 2007-2008, as in the previous 5 years - during the period of steady growth in world oil prices - the economies of the Arab countries of the Middle East and the Middle East were affected.


* Currently, 40% of the world economy's energy needs are met by oil, 26% by coal, and 24% by natural gas. However, according to experts, in 2010 gaz can reach the 2nd place. The Gulf states account for 40% of the world's total gas reserves. The top five countries in this indicator, along with Russia, include 4 "gulf" states-Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

** However, in Bahrain, where oil production began earlier than in other GCC countries - in 1934-its reserves are already close to exhaustion. However, the country's economy has successfully integrated into the economic system of the region: Bahrain has become an important financial, commercial and transport center of international importance.

page 15

The countries of the Persian Gulf maintained high GDP growth rates. The positive macroeconomic dynamics were based on the increased domestic demand in 2001-2007, which was to some extent a factor in the growth of the regional economy, on significant gold and foreign exchange reserves (according to estimates, only Saudi Arabia received an additional $378 billion from the growth of oil prices in 2001 - 2008), as well as on the intensified processes of regional economic integration within the framework of the GCC.

At the same time, the highest rate of GDP growth in the association (32.87%) was recorded in 2005 (see Table 1).

Indicators in selected GCC member countries in 2008 indicate a continuing positive macroeconomic trend.

Thus, Qatar's real GDP growth rate reached 14.3% year-on-year in 2008 and is expected to reach 13.5%by the end of 2009.6 The country's economic growth rate has approached an average of 10% over the past seven years, during which the Qatari population has grown to 900,000 people, almost half of its population. a quarter of them are Qatari citizens, while the rest are expatriates from various countries. In 2007, the country's GDP per capita was $76,000, compared to $27,000 in 2001, and in 2008, according to the IMF, this figure reached $93,204,000 per capita.7

Thus, over the past 6 years, the welfare of the Qatari population has grown more than 3 times. This puts the country on the 3rd place among the richest countries in the world. Only Luxembourg and Norway are ahead of Qatar in terms of per capita income.8 The country's oil and gas industry, which accounts for more than 55% of GDP, accounts for approximately 85% of export revenues and 70% of government revenues, is of great importance in this regard.

The Qatari economy is expected to maintain its growth trend due to the production of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and additional oil production volumes, leading to an increase in exports.

The UAE economy's real growth rate is among the highest in the world. 5 years before the crisis, the average annual growth rate reached 9.3%. The development of construction, real estate, banking and tourism contributed to a 16.5% increase in the UAE's nominal GDP (698.1 billion dirhams, or $210.964 billion) in 2007. The total capitalization of all UAE companies is more than $225 billion.9

Oman's economy grew by 13.1% annually during the second year of the 2006-2010 economic Development Plan, and GDP in 2007 was $40.521 billion. Structural reforms carried out in recent years have begun to bring noticeable results, including in the form of an increase in per capita income during 2002 - 2007.The UAE, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait are States whose economies are trying to find support not only in resources or improving their efficiency, but also in innovation.

As a result of these measures, Saudi Arabia's GDP in 2007 was $384.42 million, while the country's population reached 28.2 million people. With this ratio, GDP per capita in 2007 was about $13.6 thousand - almost the lowest indicator of per capita income in the region (Table 1). 2 and 3).

In 2002 - 2007, the per capita incomes of the countries of the region grew at a high rate (Table 3).

This growth occurred despite high demographic indicators and the lack of family planning mechanisms. To this should be added the generous social programs that exist in this group of States.

THE MAIN PROBLEMS ARE INFLATION AND UNEMPLOYMENT

Overall, the GCC countries were less affected by financial shocks and weaker economic activity in the United States and Europe than the vast majority of other countries. They demonstrated high elasticity and stability of national economies in relation to negative global economic trends.

In addition to the continued demand for energy carriers,-

Table 3

GDP per capita of the GCC countries in 1991-2007, in current prices, $ thous.

A country

1991

1998

2000

2004

2005

2006

2007

Bahrain

8,913

9,947

12,261

15,507

13,381

15,884

19,674

Kuwait

5,259

13,199

16,926

22,647

29,919

36,919

39,953

Oman

5,939

6,049

8,271

9,985

12,299

14,312

15,614

Qatar

14,295

18,011

28,797

41,521

53,333

64,193

79,387

Saudi Arabia

7,837

7,393

9,057

10,862

13,063

14,774

15,542

United Arab Emirates

17,242

16,722

21,718

26,400

32,547

42,092

48,161

Global average GDP per capita

4,313

5,015

5,202

6,464

6,891

7,361

8,302



Source: UNCTAD Handbook of Statistics, 2008. N.Y., Geneva, 2008. For data for 2008, see Table 2.

page 16

A significant role was played by the fact that their investments were mainly directed to the real sector, and not to securities, including foreign ones, since Islam prohibits transactions with traditional debt securities - bonds. As a result, not a single Islamic bank in the world went bankrupt during the crisis, did not seek help from the government, and did not face a shortage of liquidity. On the contrary, a number of banks have confirmed their stable financial position.

In addition, in recent years, the Gulf States have been able to diversify their national economies to a certain extent, strengthen their banking and insurance sectors, and accumulate significant gold and foreign exchange reserves as a result of market reforms. Thus, in accordance with the Strategic Plan for the Development of Dubai's economy until 2015, the service sector should become the basis for the development of its national economy.10

The region's countries ' positions in the global economy - in the sphere of trade, investment, and tourism-have significantly strengthened due to the gradual liberalization of national economies. At the same time, the absorption capacity of the GCC economies is increasing, i.e. they can already use oil revenues much more efficiently.

However, since the summer of 2007, after the sharp decline in the US mortgage securities market, the region's countries, as well as the entire global market, have experienced a period of increased uncertainty.

So, according to the World Bank, the value of financial assets around the world in 2008 decreased by about $50 trillion, which is almost equal to world GDP. In turn, the damage caused by the crisis for Arab countries is estimated at about $2.5 trillion. The Asian region as a whole lost about $9.6 trillion, or 109% of regional GDP.11

Under these conditions, the Gulf countries, whose currencies are pegged to the US dollar, whose economies depend on the global market, and whose monetary policy is not sufficiently strict, have faced a number of negative economic processes, primarily with a significant increase in inflation. It should be noted that during 2008, huge foreign money injections and a "lack of fiscal prudence" were also factors that aggravated the situation. As a result, a further round of inflation is expected in the region.

Inflationary problems in the region began in the early 2000s with the rise in world oil prices, which caused high government spending (including on the implementation of social programs) and a sharp increase in wages. However, as can be seen from the data presented, this process has significantly worsened as a result of the crisis.

For example, in Saudi Arabia, consumer prices in 2008 increased by a record 10.6% over the past 30 years.

The main reasons for the increase in inflation in the region are the increase in rents as a result of the housing crisis (due to a sharp increase in the population) and the instability (weakness) of the exchange rate of national currencies against the euro and the British pound.

Governments and central banks of the Gulf countries are limited in their ability to use administrative and financial instruments in the fight against inflation. Since the national currencies of these countries have been pegged to the US dollar* since 2003, central banks can only use monetary and fiscal policy tools such as budget expenditures, restrictions on rental income, and price subsidies.

The pegging of national currencies to the US dollar has a negative impact on the economies of the region and in the food sector, in particular, in the event of rising prices for agricultural products on world markets.

The GCC countries do not provide themselves with food, as the region's agricultural sector is underdeveloped, while investment in agriculture remains low in most countries. The reason for this situation is the high level of water prices and the economic inexpediency of investment in the agricultural sector**.

The fact is that in the Persian Gulf region, only 10% of food products consumed are produced locally, while the remaining 90% are imported from outside. The record holder for food imports is the UAE. The Emirates import $3.5 - 4 billion worth of food. per year, and it is here that the most active increase in food prices is observed 12.

These countries buy food from Europe, and with the fall of the US dollar, the value of the euro has increased. Spending on food imports in the region increased from $8 billion to $20 billion over 5 years, which also significantly increased inflationary processes.

Pegging to the dollar forces the Gulf Arab states, with the exception of Kuwait***, to follow changes in interest rates in the United States, and since in 2008 this currency fell to its lowest level against the euro and a basket of major currencies, many import items have become significantly more expensive. According to experts, the financial losses of the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf alone due to the fall of the US dollar and the instability of the US economy in 2007 amounted to about $60 billion.13

Pegging to the dollar also allows you to-


* Until 2003, the exchange rate of the GCC countries was non-fixed, "free".

** In Saudi Arabia, calculations were made and it was concluded that due to the lack of water and its high cost, it is rational to completely stop wheat cultivation by 2016. Recall that 20 years ago, thanks to huge investments, the kingdom was an exporter of grain, including to the USSR. It is much more profitable to grow wheat in other countries, and then import it into the country.

*** Kuwait lifted the peg of its national currency, the dinar, to the US dollar in 2007, replacing it with a basket of currencies. Currently, the Kuwaiti dinar is one of the most expensive currencies in the world (according to the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, in September 2009, 1 Kuwaiti dinar was equal to approximately 109.77 rubles).

page 17

It causes the rapid growth of the money supply in the GCC countries, provokes strong fluctuations in government revenues and business activity. Government revenues fluctuate in unison with oil prices, rather than with the currency and the state of national economies, and the dollar peg adds to their volatility.

Signs of a decline in business activity have also become increasingly noticeable, such as a decline in industrial production, losses or a significant decline in the growth rate of financial institutions ' profits, a decline in consumer demand and a drop in business confidence, and the curtailment or freezing of construction and infrastructure projects.

A significant problem for the countries of the region was the fall in real estate prices, contrary to the opinion that the real estate market of the countries of the region is quite stable and practically not affected by the global financial crisis, unlike the situation in other regions.

In the countries of the region, unemployment is growing, which has affected the construction sector to the greatest extent. The situation is also spreading to other sectors of the economy.

The GCC countries attract a large number of foreign workers, but the local population has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world. In 2006, i.e. before the crisis, about 17% of women and 10% of men were unemployed, including more than 20% of young men and 30% of young women 14. In 2007-2009, the situation significantly worsened.

At the same time, the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that the average global unemployment rate in 2007 is 7% for women and 6% for men, including less than 15% of young men and women who are unemployed.15

The GCC is not able to create jobs at the same rate as the working-age population is growing.

An increase in unemployment will undoubtedly lead to a decrease in regional GDP output, and a reduction in the number of immigrants who are primarily out of work will lead to a decrease in consumer demand both in the region and abroad.

According to the World Bank, in 2009, the volume of remittances from migrant workers in the global economy is expected to decrease by 0.9%, while cash flow from the Gulf countries may decrease by 9% (in 2008, the growth of remittances from the GCC region increased by almost 40% compared to 2007). At the same time, in 2008, 1/5 of all global migrant workers ' remittances were sent to South Asia from the Gulf countries16*.

In general, the reasons for the slowdown in economic growth in the Gulf countries include: a sharp drop in oil prices and oil revenues; a reduction in global demand, trade, and tourist flows; a decrease in investment activity and losses of the Gulf countries associated with their foreign investment.

Gulf economic entities are taking various measures to mitigate the consequences of the crisis. In particular, many construction and industrial companies with divisions in various countries of the region seek to retain their foreign employees. For example, resorting to regional relocation of labor to Qatar, which, thanks to its gas reserves, is least affected by the global crisis.

However, in the first quarter of 2009, according to the IMF, there was a further decline in the macroeconomic indicators of the region's countries. The biggest drop in revenues occurred in Saudi Arabia, from a budget surplus of 35.5% of GDP in 2008 to a deficit of 8.3%17.

According to experts and international organizations, the aggregate volume of the GCC economies will decrease in 2009. Opinions vary as to the magnitude of this reduction, but on average it is expected to reach the level of $934.5 bn18. This will also have a negative impact on the level of per capita income of the countries of the region.

ANTI-CRISIS MEASURES

Anti-crisis measures are taken by the Governments of the GCC countries both at the country level and within the framework of integration cooperation.

Coordinated actions by countries have a significant stabilizing effect in various sectors of national and regional economies, and even have a global impact. It should be emphasized that while protectionist sentiments are growing in the world and centrifugal tendencies are intensifying, integration and centripetal processes are on the contrary growing in the group of Persian Gulf countries.

At the same time, there is no single scenario and mechanism for improving the economic situation. Therefore, first of all, the GCC countries develop and implement national anti-crisis programs, considering public spending as a stabilizer of national macroeconomic dynamics.

Increased government spending on infrastructure projects and increased funding for the social sector mean, first of all, the preservation of jobs. The Ministries of Finance of Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Oman and Qatar have already announced significant increases in their spending budgets for 2009.

So, the Saudi authorities will additionally finance state projects for $127 billion. Of these, 32.6 billion rubles. It will be spent on improving the quality of education, including the construction of 1.5 thousand new schools, the women's campus of the University of Riyadh and the Medical Campus at King Saud University. Almost $14 billion. $10.5 billion will be allocated to healthcare and social services. - in the transport sector, where pla-


* These data are estimated in nature, and there are no absolute figures.

page 18

it is planned to build 5,400 km of new roads 19.

The countries of the region are strengthening measures to provide state assistance to medium and small businesses, as well as the financial sector.

"ASPIC" COUNTRIES CREATE A SINGLE CURRENCY

Among the regional integration directions of overcoming (or mitigating) the negative consequences of the crisis, the following can be distinguished.

- Maintaining financial stability. In September 2008, the UAE established a special fund of $13.6 billion. in order to increase the liquidity of financial institutions in the region. In October of the same year, the Emirates guaranteed the allocation of another $19 billion for this purpose. in 2009

The Central Banks of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Kuwait (Kuwait) cut interest rates by 3.0% and 1.4% at the end of 2008. At the same time, Middle Eastern banks continue to be the most stable in the world.

- Activation of measures to implement plans for the introduction of a single regional currency and "decoupling" from the US dollar. Representatives of 4 GCC member countries-Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar-signed a single currency agreement in Riyadh on June 7, 2009. The single currency of the Gulf states is planned to be introduced from January 1, 2010-initially as a virtual currency. The transition to a full-fledged currency is expected to take place a little later. The Gulf states must ratify the agreement on the creation of a single currency, and only then will the Gulf Monetary Council be able to start operations. The agreement must be adopted by all countries by December 12, 2009. The refusal of the UAE (in 2009) and Oman (in 2006) to participate in the Gulf monetary union weakens their monetary unity, but is not expected to affect the plans for the creation of this union in 2010.

It is assumed that the single currency will allow the Gulf countries, in particular, to step up integration processes, reduce costs in mutual trade, and reduce the dependence of national financial systems on global processes. The central Bank of the Gulf states is planned to be located in Riyadh.

- Diversification of foreign economic relations, including in the geographical direction. In particular, Arab businesses are interested in developing business relations with Russia and took an active part in the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2009. The trade turnover between Russia and Arab countries in 2008 amounted to $8 billion. The volume of mutual investments is growing.

- Collective development and implementation of individual projects in various sectors of the economy.

The Gulf states have developed a collective strategy for obtaining food from outside. A year ago, a proposal was made to create a joint corporation or fund for growing crops abroad.

In August 2008, a number of Gulf countries formed (based on public-private partnership principles) Islamic Investment Fund-Agricapital with a capital of $1 billion. to purchase land. It is also planned to establish a special bank for the same purposes.

It is supposed to rely mainly on Islamic countries, which in exchange for capital and oil will provide the GCC states with access to arable land for growing crops and then exporting, including exporting, agricultural products. The main countries in this project were Pakistan and Sudan. This is followed by Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, as well as Turkey, Kazakhstan, Uganda, Ukraine, Georgia, Brazil, etc.

WILL THE CRISIS BE A CATALYST FOR CHANGE?

Thus, we can say that the global financial crisis has highlighted and reinforced the problems and contradictions that persist in the economies of the Gulf countries and pushes states not only to solve immediate problems in the short term, but also to strengthen their activities (including interaction) in order to improve the situation in various areas of the national economy.

The crisis of 2007-2008 came from the West to the GCC countries, exacerbating the most difficult problems of their national economies. Perhaps it will become a catalyst for the formation of a new model of socio-economic development of Arab countries, as well as strengthening regional economic integration.


1 Middle East and North Africa Region, 2008. Economic Developments and Prospects. World Bank, 2008.

Berg and 2S. FRG-Bahrain: Features and prospects of cooperation - http://www.iimes.ru/rtis/stat/2009/08 - 02 - 09a.htm

3 Middle East and North Africa Region, 2008...

4 May 2009 Economic Outlook for the Middle East and Central Asia. IMF, 2009.

5 http://www.islamnews.ru

6 http://www.arabnews.ru/economica-num-16.html

7 Middle Eastern and North African economies coping well with global crisis: IMF Posted: 10 - 05 - 2009 - www.menareport.com

8 http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2009/01/weodata/weorept.aspx?sy=2008&ey-2008& scsm=18, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_counries_by_GDP(nominal)_per_capita

9 Middle Eastern and North African economies coping...

10 Dubai's economy undergoing structural shift toward long-term sustainability - www.menareport.com

11 MENA Economic Developments, 2008. World Bank, 2008. International Monetary Fund. World Economic Outlook Database, April 2008.

Herman And 12. The Arabs live on import / / Expert. 5.05.2008.

13 The Middle East invests according to Sharia law / / Tenant.ру, 20.02.2008 - http://www.arendator.ni/articles/l/art/19969/

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19 Middle Eastern and North African economies coping...


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