Fitch Ratings, which lifted its rating outlook on Saudi Arabia’s Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) to “A+” with a Stable Outlook in last November, affirms its rating today.
The strong fiscal and external balance sheets, including exceptionally high international reserves, low government debt, and significant government assets support the Saudi financial strength, and make it worthy to the “A+” credit rating.
The report also mentions that Saudi Arabia’s budget deficit narrowed to 5.9% of GDP in 2018 from 9.2% in 2017 and the 2019-oil revenues will be supported by larger-than-usual $33 billion (4.2% of GDP) dividend from Saudi Aramco in the first quarter of this year. It also confirms that Saudi Arabia still has one of the largest sovereign assets of countries classified by the agency.
- Fitch assumes that Brent crude oil prices will average USD65/bbl in 2019 and USD62.5/bbl in 2020
Fitch report also adds that the structural reforms within the framework of the “Vision 2030” program could boost growth over the medium term, praising the financial reforms that could support the acceleration of the non-oil GDP growth to 2.5% in 2019-2020.
- Saudi Arabia’s SNFA position mainly reflects exceptionally large SAMA reserves of 64% of GDP (or 24 months of current external payments).
The report refers to expectations of a rise in the public debt to reach 22% of GDP by 2020, but the agency confirms that this percentage is still lower than the average of countries rated in category A, praising the strength of the Saudi banking sector and the legislation of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA).
These positive estimates reflect the confidence of the international rating agencies in the Saudi economy and the effectiveness of the economic reforms taken by the Saudi Government within the framework of the fiscal balance program to achieve its objectives in 2023.