GCC Foreign Assets To Reach $1.9trn

Net foreign assets held by Gulf states are forecast to soar to $1.9 trillion in 2012 as a result of high oil prices, the Institute of International Finance said on Wednesday.

The figure represents a 19 per cent rise from estimates of $1.6 trillion at the end of last year for the value of assets held by Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the IIF said in a report.

Net foreign assets are the total foreign assets minus foreign liabilities. Saudi Arabia topped the list of net foreign assets with $613 billion last year, closely followed by the UAE with $503 billion, Kuwait with $396 billion and Qatar with $59 billion.

The assets are forecast to grow to $2.14 trillion at the end of 2013 if the current trend of oil prices and production levels remain unchanged, IIF said.

Members of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council sit on 40 per cent of global oil reserves and 25 per cent of natural gas deposits, and have a spare crude oil output capacity of 2.5-3.0 million barrels per day.

Accordingly, GCC states are positioned to meet any possible shortfall in supplies to world markets as a result of expected declines in Iranian exports because of sanctions, the report said.

The GCC members are also forecast to post a record oil income of $572 billion this year from $538 billion in 2011, according to calculations based on current oil production and prices, it added to AFP.

Members of the Gulf bloc have reaped the fruits of sustained rise in the price of oil in the past decade, barring a short period associated with the global financial crisis.

Together, the six countries pump more than 17 million barrels per day. The Gulf economies grew by a healthy 6.9 per cent in 2011 but are expected to slow to 4.9 per cent this year and drop further to 4.2 per cent in 2013, it said.

Combined nominal gross domestic product grew by 31 per cent last year to hit $1.4 trillion and is forecast to rise to $1.5 trillion at the end of this year, IIF said.