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KUWAIT CITY, Jan 19: The report issued by the Arab Monetary Fund (AMF) titled ‘The Competitiveness of Arab Economies’ shows the competitive edge of the Arab countries which is an improvement in four countries, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait, between 2017 and 2020 — improvement in a number of sub-sectors — while six Arab countries maintained their competitive positions as was recorded in the previous issue of the report, reports Al-Rai daily. The UAE topped the general index of the competitiveness of Arab economies followed by Saudi Arabia in second place, Qatar in third, Morocco fourth, Kuwait fifth and Oman sixth.
The report compared the Arab countries with 9 reference countries from several different regions — India, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Brazil, Turkey, Spain and South Africa — noting that according to that comparison, Singapore ranked first, South Korea in second place, the UAE third, Thailand fourth, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia fifth and sixth, respectively, Qatar ranked seventh, Spain eighth, Morocco ninth and Kuwait tenth, says the daily. The fifth issue of the “Arab Monetary” report included all Arab countries except for Somalia, Comoros, Djibouti, Syria, and Palestine, due to the lack of sufficient data. On the other hand, the report indicated that the real growth rate of the group of Arab countries shrank by about 5.5 percent in 2020, compared to a growth rate of 1.7 percent in 2019, attributing this to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, due to the total and partial closure that followed the pandemic, as well as the decline in oil prices globally due to the pandemic, in addition to the impact of the decline in global demand.
The report stated that as a result of the contraction in the real growth rate by 9.1 percent in Kuwait, it ranked 24th among the Arab economies and the nine reference countries in this aspect, explaining that with the exception of the nine countries, Kuwait ranked 15th in the Arab world and the last in the Gulf in the real growth rate. In the real GDP per capita index, Singapore, Qatar, the UAE, South Korea and Kuwait ranked among the top five, as Qatar scored the highest standard value of 2.57 points at the level of the Arab countries, with the average per capita GDP rising to $61 thousand above the average between 2017 and 2020, the UAE scored a standard value of 1.57 points, with an average per capita output of about 43 thousand dollars for the same period, while Kuwait scored 0.79 points and Bahrain 0.46 points with an average share of 29.6 thousand dollars per person in Kuwait and 23.7 thousand dollars per person in Bahrain during the same period. With regard to inflation rates, the report showed that the average inflation rate rose in five Arab countries by more than 13 percent over the average between 2017 and 2020. These countries are the Sudan, Lebanon, Yemen, Egypt and Libya, while Kuwait ranked eighth in the Arab world and first in the Gulf in the average increase in the rate of inflation by recording 2.7 percent over the same period.
On the other hand, the Gulf Cooperation Council countries recorded the lowest levels in the average Arab unemployment rate, and the lowest was in Qatar with 3.5 percent, followed by Bahrain with 4.1 percent, then the UAE and Oman with 5 percent, followed by Kuwait with 6.8 percent, while Saudi Arabia recorded 8.2 percent during 2020. The Arab Monetary report stated that in the monetary and financial sector index, which consists of 4 sub-indices, which are the index of the growth rate of net foreign assets, the index of the volume of domestic credit granted to the private sector, the index of the ratio of nonperforming loans to total loans, and the index of domestic liquidity to the gross domestic product, Kuwait ranked second in the Arab world after Qatar. As for the indicator of the ratio of nonperforming loans to total loans, Qatar ranked first in the Arab world
and fourth at the level of the group as a whole, with a benchmark value of 0.825 points, where the average ratio of non-performing loans decreased to about 1.768 percent from the average of the period 2017-2020, while it ranked Kuwait ranked second at the level of Arab countries and fifth at the level of the group (Arab countries + the nine comparison countries), after the benchmark value reached about 0.824 points, and the average ratio of non-performing loans to total loans reached about 1.767 percent over the average of the period 2017-2020.
Saudi Arabia came in third place with a benchmark value of 0.802 points, while the ratio of non-performing loans to total loans in the Kingdom was about 1.91 percent over the average for the same time period. The report pointed out that Qatar, the UAE and Bahrain occupied the first three positions in the real sector competitiveness index at the level of Arab countries for the average period 2017-2020; in fourth place was Saudi Arabia, while Oman came in fifth, and Kuwait ranked 12th.