(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) Recent trade data show Kuwait's trade surplus increasing for a fifth consecutive quarter in the fourth quarter of 2011 to a peak of KD 5.8 billion, according to a recent economic report.
The full year balance reached an all-time high of KD 21.6 billion, up from KD 12.8 billion in 2010 and equivalent to 47 percent of the GDP, it said, adding that thanks to high oil prices, the trade surplus should remain similarly strong this year.
Last year's record high oil prices (USD 105 pb) generated a jump in export revenues, which reached KD 26.7 billion for the year as a whole. This was up 51 percent from 2010. Despite a small slip in oil prices in the second half of 2011, oil exports continued to expand on the back of higher production, as OPEC looked to offset declines in Libyan output, the report added. Non-oil exports also rose to record levels in 2011, at KD 1.9 billion, up 23 percent y/y. Most of the increase came from petrochemical exports, which also benefitted from higher oil prices. The non-oil sector's contribution to exports remains small at 7 percent, the NBK's report showed.
The import data provide evidence of the economy's continued steady growth. Import growth accelerated to 11 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2011 - its fastest rate of 2011.
For 2011 as a whole, imports reached a record high of KD 7 billion, up 9 percent y/y. There is scope for imports to grow much faster if the economy picks up.
This might require faster growth in the non-consumer sector, which accounts for more than half of all imports but which remains sluggish. While stronger import growth might reduce the trade surplus, it is good news for the economy in general, the report concluded.