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Kuwait vs. Saudi Arabia

Economy

KuwaitSaudi Arabia
Economy - overviewKuwait has a geographically small, but wealthy, relatively open economy with crude oil reserves of about 102 billion barrels - more than 6% of world reserves. Kuwaiti officials plan to increase production to 4 million barrels of oil equivalent per day by 2020. Petroleum accounts for over half of GDP, 92% of export revenues, and 90% of government income.

In 2015, Kuwait, for the first time in 15 years, realized a budget deficit after decades of high oil prices; in 2016, the deficit grew to 16.5% of GDP. Kuwaiti authorities announced cuts to fuel subsidies in August 2016, provoking outrage among the public and National Assembly, and the Amir dissolved the government for the seventh time in ten years. Despite Kuwait’s dependence on oil, the government has cushioned itself against the impact of lower oil prices, by saving annually at least 10% of government revenue in the Fund for Future Generations.

Kuwait has failed to diversify its economy or bolster the private sector, because of a poor business climate, a large public sector that employs about 76% of citizens, and an acrimonious relationship between the National Assembly and the executive branch that has stymied most economic reforms. The Kuwaiti Government has made little progress on its long-term economic development plan first passed in 2010. While the government planned to spend up to $104 billion over four years to diversify the economy, attract more investment, and boost private sector participation in the economy, many of the projects did not materialize because of an uncertain political situation or delays in awarding contracts.
Saudi Arabia has an oil-based economy with strong government controls over major economic activities. It possesses about 16% of the world's proven petroleum reserves, ranks as the largest exporter of petroleum, and plays a leading role in OPEC. The petroleum sector accounts for roughly 87% of budget revenues, 42% of GDP, and 90% of export earnings.

Saudi Arabia is encouraging the growth of the private sector in order to diversify its economy and to employ more Saudi nationals. Over 6 million foreign workers play an important role in the Saudi economy, particularly in the oil and service sectors; at the same time, however, Riyadh is struggling to reduce unemployment among its own nationals. Saudi officials are particularly focused on employing its large youth population, which generally lacks the education and technical skills the private sector needs.

In 2016, the Kingdom incurred a budget deficit estimated at 13.6% of GDP, which was financed by bond sales and drawing down reserves. Although the Kingdom can finance high deficits for several years by drawing down its considerable foreign assets or by borrowing, it has cut capital spending. Plans to cut deficits include introducing a value-added tax and reducing subsidies on electricity, water, and petroleum products. In January 2016, Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister MUHAMMAD BIN SALMAN announced that Saudi Arabia intends to list shares of its state-owned petroleum company, ARAMCO - another move to increase revenue and outside investment. The government has also looked at privatization and diversification of the economy more closely in the wake of a diminished oil market. Historically, Saudi Arabia has focused diversification efforts on power generation, telecommunications, natural gas exploration, and petrochemical sectors. More recently, the government has approached investors about expanding the role of the private sector in the healthcare, education and tourism industries. While Saudi Arabia has emphasized their goals of diversification for some time, current low oil prices may force the government to make more drastic changes ahead of their long-run timeline.
GDP (purchasing power parity)$301.1 billion (2016 est.)
$293.7 billion (2015 est.)
$290.4 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
$1.731 trillion (2016 est.)
$1.711 trillion (2015 est.)
$1.653 trillion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
GDP - real growth rate2.5% (2016 est.)
1.1% (2015 est.)
0.6% (2014 est.)
1.2% (2016 est.)
3.5% (2015 est.)
3.6% (2014 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$71,300 (2016 est.)
$71,500 (2015 est.)
$72,600 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
$54,100 (2016 est.)
$54,500 (2015 est.)
$53,700 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
GDP - composition by sectoragriculture: 0.4%
industry: 59.6%
services: 40% (2016 est.)
agriculture: 2.4%
industry: 42.9%
services: 54.7% (2016 est.)
Population below poverty lineNA%
NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices)3.3% (2016 est.)
3.3% (2015 est.)
4.4% (2016 est.)
2.2% (2015 est.)
Labor force2.546 million
note: non-Kuwaitis represent about 60% of the labor force (2016 est.)
12.02 million
note: about 80% of the labor force is non-national (2016 est.)
Labor force - by occupationagriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
agriculture: 6.7%
industry: 21.4%
services: 71.9% (2005 est.)
Unemployment rate3% (2016 est.)
3% (2015 est.)
11.2% (2016 est.)
11.4% (2015 est.)
note: data are for Saudi males only (local bank estimates; some estimates are as high as 25%)
Budgetrevenues: $47.14 billion
expenditures: $65.32 billion (2016 est.)
revenues: $149.7 billion
expenditures: $236.7 billion (2016 est.)
Industriespetroleum, petrochemicals, cement, shipbuilding and repair, water desalination, food processing, construction materials
crude oil production, petroleum refining, basic petrochemicals, ammonia, industrial gases, sodium hydroxide (caustic soda), cement, fertilizer, plastics, metals, commercial ship repair, commercial aircraft repair, construction
Industrial production growth rate1.6% (2016 est.)
0.6% (2016 est.)
Agriculture - productsfish
wheat, barley, tomatoes, melons, dates, citrus; mutton, chickens, eggs, milk
Exports$43.84 billion (2016 est.)
$55.32 billion (2015 est.)
$205.3 billion (2016 est.)
$202.3 billion (2015 est.)
Exports - commoditiesoil and refined products, fertilizers
petroleum and petroleum products 90% (2012 est.)
Exports - partnersSouth Korea 14.8%, China 12.3%, Japan 10.6%, India 9.8%, US 7.7%, Pakistan 6%, Singapore 4.4% (2015)
China 13.2%, Japan 10.9%, US 9.6%, India 9.3%, South Korea 8.5% (2015)
Imports$28.32 billion (2016 est.)
$27.34 billion (2015 est.)
$157.7 billion (2016 est.)
$155 billion (2015 est.)
Imports - commoditiesfood, construction materials, vehicles and parts, clothing
machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals, motor vehicles, textiles
Imports - partnersChina 13.2%, US 9.6%, Saudi Arabia 7.7%, Japan 6.5%, Germany 5.1%, France 4.3%, India 4.3% (2015)
China 13.8%, US 12.5%, Germany 7%, South Korea 6%, India 4.4%, Japan 4.3%, UK 4.3% (2015)
Debt - external$41.3 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$37.23 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$200.9 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$169.8 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Exchange ratesKuwaiti dinars (KD) per US dollar -
0.3024 (2016 est.)
0.3009 (2015 est.)
0.3009 (2014 est.)
0.2845 (2013 est.)
0.28 (2012 est.)
Saudi riyals (SAR) per US dollar -
3.75 (2016 est.)
3.75 (2015 est.)
3.75 (2014 est.)
3.75 (2013 est.)
3.75 (2012 est.)
Fiscal year1 April - 31 March
calendar year
Public debt23.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
11.2% of GDP (2015 est.)
31% of GDP (2016 est.)
15% of GDP (2015 est.)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$28.72 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$30.96 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$553.7 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$616.4 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Current Account Balance$2.977 billion (2016 est.)
$5.974 billion (2015 est.)
-$24.91 billion (2016 est.)
-$56.72 billion (2015 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate)$110.5 billion (2016 est.)
$637.8 billion (2016 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$12.39 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$14.6 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$258.7 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$250.7 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad$73.65 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$31.58 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$42.95 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$37.98 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares$81.78 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$83.13 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$99.77 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$421.1 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$483.1 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$467.4 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
Central bank discount rate2.5% (31 December 2016)
1.25% (31 December 2010)
2.5% (31 December 2008)

Commercial bank prime lending rate4.6% (31 December 2016 est.)
4.3% (31 December 2015 est.)
7.1% (31 December 2016 est.)
6.9% (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of domestic credit$102.9 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$96.96 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$221.3 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$134.1 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of narrow money$31.54 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$30.95 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$295.5 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$305.5 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of broad money$117.1 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$114.8 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$513.3 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$461.2 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
Taxes and other revenues42.7% of GDP (2016 est.)
23.5% of GDP (2016 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)-16.5% of GDP (2016 est.)
-13.6% of GDP (2016 est.)
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24total: 14.6%
male: N/A
female: N/A (2011 est.)
total: 30.4%
male: 21.4%
female: 57.9% (2014 est.)
GDP - composition, by end usehousehold consumption: 47.6%
government consumption: 27.2%
investment in fixed capital: 29.5%
investment in inventories: 0%
exports of goods and services: 47.8%
imports of goods and services: -52.1% (2016 est.)
household consumption: 42.3%
government consumption: 29.6%
investment in fixed capital: 29.5%
investment in inventories: 5.9%
exports of goods and services: 30.7%
imports of goods and services: -38% (2016 est.)
Gross national saving27.2% of GDP (2016 est.)
31.6% of GDP (2015 est.)
50.2% of GDP (2014 est.)
25% of GDP (2016 est.)
26.4% of GDP (2015 est.)
38.3% of GDP (2014 est.)

Source: CIA Factbook