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Mr. Zubair Iqbal and Mr. Ugo Fasano-Filho

Abstract

This paper presents an overview of the unprecedented economic and social transformation witnessed by the member countries of the Cooperation Council of the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC)-Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates-over the last three decades.

Mr. Zubair Iqbal and Mr. Ugo Fasano-Filho

Abstract

Over the past three decades the member countries of the Cooperation Council of the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC)—Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates—have witnessed an unprecedented economic and social transformation. Oil proceeds have been used to modernize infrastructure, create employment, and improve social indicators, while the countries have been able to accumulate official reserves, maintain relatively low external debt, and remain important donors to poor countries. Life expectancy in the GCC area increased by almost 10 years to 74 years during 1980-2000, and literacy rates increased by 20 percentage points to about 80 percent over the same period. Average per capita income in the GCC countries was estimated at about $12,000 in 2002, with their combined nominal GDP reaching close to $340 billion (more than half the GDP of all Middle Eastern countries; see Table 1). With very low inflation, overall real economic growth has averaged 4 percent a year during the past three decades, while the importance of non-oil economic activities has grown steadily, reflecting GCC countries’ efforts at economic diversification. Moreover, central bank international reserves alone in some GCC countries are equivalent to about 10 months of imports. This progress has been achieved with an open exchange and trade system and liberal capital flows, as well as open borders for foreign labor. The GCC area has become an important center for regional economic growth.

International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

This 2015 Article IV Consultation highlights that Qatar is implementing an ambitious diversification strategy, while retaining its systemic role in the global natural gas market. Qatar accounts for one-third of global liquefied natural gas trade and has emerged as an important global financial investor, labor importer, and donor. The authorities are executing a large public infrastructure program to advance economic diversification and prepare for the FIFA 2022 World Cup. The economy has maintained strong growth momentum so far despite the large drop in oil prices since summer 2014. The short-term growth outlook is positive, but lower oil prices will lead to a substantial deterioration of the fiscal and external balances.

International Monetary Fund
In recent years, the IMF has released a growing number of reports and other documents covering economic and financial developments and trends in member countries. Each report, prepared by a staff team after discussions with government officials, is published at the option of the member country.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
This 2015 Article IV Consultation highlights that Qatar is implementing an ambitious diversification strategy, while retaining its systemic role in the global natural gas market. Qatar accounts for one-third of global liquefied natural gas trade and has emerged as an important global financial investor, labor importer, and donor. The authorities are executing a large public infrastructure program to advance economic diversification and prepare for the FIFA 2022 World Cup. The economy has maintained strong growth momentum so far despite the large drop in oil prices since summer 2014. The short-term growth outlook is positive, but lower oil prices will lead to a substantial deterioration of the fiscal and external balances.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
This Selected Issues paper discusses measures to strengthen fiscal policy and budget frameworks in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It provides an overview of government’s revenue and expenditure developments, and presents fiscal sustainability analysis that is most relevant to countries with large hydrocarbon wealth such as the UAE. The paper discusses measures to contain expenditure growth—controlling the public wage bill, reducing subsidies and transfers, and stabilizing other expense in real terms. It also proposes options to increase nonhydrocarbon revenue such as broadening corporate income tax with lower rates, introducing a low rate-broad based value added tax, and levying an excise tax on automobiles.
Mr. Andre O Santos
The objective of the paper is to assess ownership and control links in the GCC corporate sector. The analysis focuses on the integrated ownership and network arising from ownership data available in Bloomberg and GCC stock exchanges. The paper finds that ownership is concentrated in GCC public sector institutions, holding companies, financial institutions, and family groups. The paper then considers the effect of different definitions of control on the distribution of consolidated debt. Debt concentration is maximized when the wedge between ownership and control is the largest. This is the case when the largest shareholder has at least 5 percent of total shares as defined in Zingales (1994).
Mr. Alberto Behar
We estimate the elasticity of private-sector employment to non-oil GDP in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) for GCC nationals and expatriates using a Seemingly Unrelated Error Correction (SUREC) model. Our results indicate that the employment response is lower for nationals, who have an estimated short-run elasticity of only 0.15 and a long-run response of 0.7 or less. The elasticity is almost unity for expatriates in the long run and 0.35 in the short run. We interpret low elasticities as indirect evidence of labor market adjustment costs, which could include hiring and firing rigidities, skills mismatches, and reluctance to accept private sector jobs. Forecasts suggest that, absent measures to reduce adjustment costs, the private sector will only be able to absorb a small portion of nationals entering the labor force.
Mr. Bright E Okogu
This paper discusses the rising profile of natural gas in global energy, factors constraining its further development, the gas contracting process, and the absence of a global market, which is analyzed in the context of the economic rent in the gas price and the opaque nature of gas contracts. A proposal for rationalizing the trade to ease these constraints is offered. Gas pricing, and factors driving demand are also analyzed using evidence from the literature. FDI can help to monetize some of the 'stranded' gas reserves, but success would depend on an investor-friendly climate, including appropriate tariff regimes in the domestic markets.
Mr. Bright E Okogu

Abstract

The world oil market has undergone tremendous changes in the past three decades, starting from the renegotiation of the “posted price”—a reference price on which royalties to host countries were calculated—in 1970. Before that, this price was fixed (at US$1.80 a barrel during the 1960s) by the major international oil companies that operated the oil concessions in these countries. Subsequent events culminating in the 1973 oil price shock and the eventual transfer of property rights to the host countries heralded the start of a new era in the oil industry.