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 Fitch revises Saudi Arabia's outlook from Stable to Positive and affirms "A" credit rating


The international credit rating agency "Fitch" updated its credit report for Saudi Arabia affirming its “A" rating for the Kingdom and revising the stable outlook from its July 2021 rating to positive.

According to the Agency, the outlook revision reflects the Kingdom's improvements in the sovereign balance sheet given higher oil revenue driven by increase in oil prices, commitment to fiscal consolidation and implementation of various plans to diversify the economy.

The agency also forecasts the government debt to GDP to remain below 30% until 2025, which is approximately half the median level of comparative countries with similar credit ratings. Additionally, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will maintain its large financial reserves during the coming period, including buffers in the Central Bank, which exceed 10% of GDP.

In its report, the agency expected the continuation of positive growth in the Saudi economy and budget surpluses for the years 2022 and 2023 for the first time since 2013 (equivalent to 6.7% and 3.5% of GDP, respectively). This is a result of the recent oil price recovery, and the agencies revised forecasts for the current year, from 70 to 100 US dollars per barrel.

Despite the rise in oil prices, the agency also expected that spending control will broadly persist given the uncertainty in oil prices over the long term. Additionally, Fitch stated that the Kingdom has committed to a robust budget to cope  with oil price fluctuations and accommodate higher public sector spending to support economic growth and job creation, in line with its Financial Sustainability Program.

The agency also indicated that the increase in off-budget spending by the Public Investment Fund and the National Development Fund allowed for less budget spending during the previous period, with capital spending declining to 5% of GDP, compared to 11% of GDP in 2014.

The agency highlighted that the average non-oil revenue is expected to reach around 19% of non-oil GDP in 2022 and 2023, more than double the level in 2015. Fitch also expected the stability of non-oil revenues in nominal terms for 2022.

The agency also stated that the Kingdom is pressing ahead with its National Investment Strategy, which is expected to play a role in revenue growth in the form of non-oil GDP growth, the increase of job opportunities outside the central government, and the reduction of the current national unemployment rate (11%). The agency noted that the National Investment Strategy aims to create domestic investment opportunities valued at 12 trillion Saudi riyals (nearly four times the GDP of 2021) by 2030, supported by the Public Investment Fund and the National Development Fund, in addition to Saudi Aramco and non-governmental investors participation in the strategy.

Fitch's outlook revision makes Saudi Arabia one of the few countries globally, and the only G20 country, to have received two consecutive upward outlook revisions. This highlights the positive impact of the structural measures and reforms taken by the Kingdom during the past five years. These reforms are in accordance with the Kingdom's Vision 2030 objectives and illustrate the fiscal policy effectiveness and increased government efficiency.​

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Last Update : 4/15/2022 6:21 PM