Kuwait trade surplus hits record $75bn in 2012
Kuwait, May 12, 2013
Kuwait’s trade surplus reached an all-time high of KD25.9 billion ($74.5 billion) in 2012, surpassing the previously set record level of KD21.2 billion in 2011, a report said.
The surplus, estimated at around 53 per cent of annual 2012 GDP, was boosted by a combination of strong exports and comparatively soft imports, added the latest Economic Update on foreign trade issued by the National Bank of Kuwait (NBK).
This year, the trade surplus is expected to be limited by lower oil prices and a faster pick-up in imports – the latter driven by an improvement in non-oil sector growth, said the update.
Oil exports also climbed to a record high of KD31.6 billion in 2012 - up 18 per cent on the previous year. This was driven by a 12 per cent year-on-year increase in oil production, as well as a 3 per cent year-on-year rise in Kuwait Export Crude (KEC) prices to $109 per barrel.
Oil export receipts exceeded KD8 billion in the first quarter of 2012 - the highest level in any single quarter – but eased back in following months in line with oil price movements; by December, the price of KEC receded by some $16 per barrel from its peak in March.
Non-oil exports edged up to KD1.6 billion in 2012 (+ 5 per cent year-on-year) on the back of higher ‘re-exports’ and ‘other’ goods.
These were both around KD0.2 billion higher than a year ago, with the larger part of the increase occurring in the final quarter of the year. Meanwhile, exports of ‘ethylene products’ were down 30 per cent year-on-year, despite a surge in the fourth quarter of 2012.
Their share of total non-oil exports, which constituted a significant plus-50 per cent in the previous year, dropped to around one-third, the update noted.
Imports grew by a sluggish 3 per cent year-on-year in 2012 to KD7.2 billion, compared to an average growth rate of 12 per cent over the past decade. Imports had picked up in the fourth quarter of 2012 following three consecutive quarters of decline, but they were down in year-on-year terms in the quarter for the first time in two years.
Softer oil exports – against the backdrop of a looser global oil market – and stronger imports are likely to trim the trade surplus in 2013.
NBK expects to see cuts in Kuwait’s oil production from a record average of 3 million barrels per day in 2012, in addition to lower oil prices.
Meanwhile, the pace of growth in imports could accelerate this year, as government development projects – coupled with a strong consumer sector – spur growth in non-oil GDP, according to the update. – TradeArabia News Service