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Saudi Arabia's Non-oil Economy Expanded 3.3%

Saudi Arabia's Non-oil Economy Expanded 3.3%

Tuesday, 11 May, 2021 - 08:00
FILE PHOTO: General view of Riyadh city, after the Saudi government eased a curfew, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, June 21 2020. REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri

Saudi Arabia's economy shrank 3.3% in the first quarter from a year earlier, hit by oil output cuts, but the non-oil economy expanded 3.3%, recovering from the pandemic, according to government estimates on Monday.

The non-oil sector grew for the first time since the first quarter of 2020, the General Authority for Statistics in Saudi Arabia said in a statement. Government services also showed growth of 0.3% in the first quarter.

Saudi Arabia's economy, the largest in the Arab world, is expected to grow 2.1 percent in 2021 after shrinking 4.1 percent last year amid the twin shocks of the coronavirus pandemic and lower oil prices, the IMF said in a recent report.

The latest data showed overall GDP in the first quarter was hurt by a 12 percent decline in ongoing crude oil production cuts agreed by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Russia and their allies, a group known as OPEC+ since May 2020.

Seasonally-adjusted quarter-on-quarter the economy shrank by only 0.1 percent, while the non-oil economy expanded 4 percent, the data showed. Government services grew by 0.5 percent.

Saudi Arabia is trying to boost the non-oil sector through a multi-trillion-dollar spending push that will require state companies to cut the dividends they pay the government to boost capital spending, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said.

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