DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s non-oil economy expanded 3.3 percent in the first quarter as the Kingdom emerged from the pandemic, according to flash government estimates on Monday.
However the wider economy shrank by the same measure.
The reason for the difference between the two was a sharp decrease in oil production, the General Authority for Statistics in Saudi Arabia said in a statement.
Ongoing oil production cuts agreed by the OPEC+ group of exporters means that Saudi Arabia is generating less income from selling oil.
A major privatization push, the re-opening of international travel and the relaxation of other pandemic-related restrictions in the Kingdom is spurring commercial activity in Saudi Arabia, the region’s largest economy. The IMF expects the Saudi economy to expand by about 2.1 percent this year after shrinking 4.1 percent last year.
The latest data represents the first positive annual growth rate for the non-oil sector since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Business activity in the Kingdom’s non-oil private sector in April accelerated at the fastest pace in three months, owing to a significant rise in new sales as businesses recovered from the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, according to the latest IHS Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) survey published last week.
Firms in the Kingdom also expanded staff numbers for the first time in five months, the index showed.
The seasonally adjusted PMI rose to a three-month high of 55.2 in April, up from 53.3 in March, indicating a significant improvement in non-oil private sector business conditions. Any score above 50 indicates growth, and the figure has been increasing every month since September 2020.
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