(MENAFN - Arab News) Saudi Arabia's winning of 8th position among the world's 10 high growth economies of 2012 listed by the International Monetary Fund reflects its economic strength and stability, said Economy and Planning Minister Muhammad Al-Jasser yesterday.
"The IMF has predicted that the actual growth rate of Saudi Arabia's gross domestic product would reach six percent in 2012. This is a new international certificate that reaffirms the Kingdom's economic stability and effectiveness of its economic policies," he said.
Al-Jasser said the buoyant IMF economic outlook about Saudi Arabia is significant as it comes at a time when most countries in the world are facing economic downturn as a result of global recession and euro zone financial collapse.
"The economic progress being witnessed by Saudi Arabia is the result of the intensive efforts of the government and the private sector to push growth factors within a comprehensive economic vision and its continuous economic reforms," he said.
The minister said the preliminary estimate of the GDP for the first quarter of this year has confirmed the IMF outlook about the Kingdom. The General Statistics Department reported last week that the Kingdom's GDP grew 5.94 percent in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period a year ago.
"Preliminary information shows GDP in the first quarter of 2012 grew by 15.96 percent in current prices with its value reaching SR 612.295 billion against SR 528.002 billion during the same period in 2011. The GDP growth in real prices was 5.94 percent," the department said.
The public sector GDP rose by 0.17 percent to SR 89.198 billion in current prices compared to SR 89.048 billion last year, the quarterly report said. In real prices it rose by 4.24 percent. The private sector GDP grew by 10.52 percent in the first quarter, a value of SR 162.77 billion compared to SR 147.28 billion the previous year. In real prices, the growth was 6.33 percent.
The oil sector showed a record growth rate of 23.73 percent in current prices with a value of SR 356.51 billion compared to SR 288.13 billion the previous year, but in real prices the growth was 7.17 percent, the department pointed out.
Al-Jasser highlighted the Kingdom's strong points that make it the region's economic powerhouse, most importantly its position as a strategic source of energy, its capability to finance big investment projects, the presence of a strong banking system and its investment-friendly policies and regulations.
The minister is optimistic about the future of Saudi economy in the backdrop of its huge financial capabilities. "Realizing a competitive and impressive position in terms of achievement and production is the crux of the national economic vision," he added.
The statistics department said Saudi Arabia's nonoil exports in the first quarter of 2012 rose by 11 percent to SR 44.1 billion compared to the same period last year, with petrochemicals contributing 35 percent of the total or SR 15.59 billion, followed by plastic products 32 percent (SR 14 billion).
China was the largest importer of Saudi nonoil products as it received 12 percent of the Kingdom's total exports, followed by the United Arab Emirates 11 percent and Singapore 6 percent. The Kingdom's total exports during the period rose by 22.94 percent to SR 384.4 billion against SR 312.6 billion.
The Kingdom's imports during the first three months of 2012 rose by 18 percent to SR 128.66 billion compared to last year with machinery and electrical equipment accounting for the highest category (SR 35 billion) followed by automobiles SR 21.8 billion and metals and metallic products SR 19.3 billion.
The United States retained its position as the largest exporter to Saudi Arabia as its exports stood at 13.3 percent of the total, followed by China 12.9 percent and Germany 7.9 percent.
The Statistics Department, which belongs to the Ministry of Economy and Planning, estimated the total volume of demand in the local market at SR 409.54 billion in the first quarter compared to SR 371.76 billion in 2011 with an increase of 10.16 percent.
Government consumption during the period amounted to SR 121.71 billion in current prices against SR 116.66 billion in 2011 with an increase of 4.32 percent. Private sector consumption during the same period rose by 6.89 percent from SR 158.5 billion to SR 169.4 billion, the report added. Solid capital investment during the period reached SR 126 billion against SR 116.4 billion, with an increase of 8.23 percent.