Saudi Arabia’s non-oil exports increase 31% in second quarter

The kingdom recorded a trade surplus of $69bn in the April-June period, according to official data

Riyadh skyline. Saudi Arabia's exports during the second quarter rose 85 per cent annually. EPA
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Saudi Arabia's non-oil exports, including re-exports, grew 31 per cent annually in the second quarter of 2022, rising to 86.2 billion Saudi riyals ($23bn), as the kingdom continued efforts to diversify its economy away from hydrocarbons.

Non-oil export growth was also up on a quarterly basis by nearly 10 per cent from 7.6bn riyals in the first quarter, according to data released on Wednesday by the General Authority for Statistics.

Growth was driven by chemical and allied industry products, which made up more than 35 per cent of total non-oil merchandise exports and were up 49 per cent on an annual basis.

They were followed by plastics and rubber products, which accounted for about 29 per cent of the total.

Overall, the kingdom's total value of exports during the second quarter amounted to 429.8bn riyals, up about 85 per cent from 232.2bn riyals in the same period last year, mainly driven by rising oil exports.

Oil exports increased 106.5 per cent annually by 177.2bn riyals in the second quarter, Gastat said.

The share of oil exports in total exports also rose to 80 per cent from 71.7 per cent in the second quarter of 2021, amid rising crude prices, data showed.

Overall, the kingdom recorded a trade surplus of 258. 86bn riyals in the second quarter of 2022, compared with 91.75bn riyals in the same period last year.

Saudi Arabia’s economy is set to grow at the quickest pace in a decade and will likely be one of the world’s fastest-growing economies this year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

It is projected to expand 7.6 per cent this year after 3.2 per cent growth in 2021, according to the IMF.

The kingdom's economy has continued to improve as it recovers from the coronavirus-induced slowdown.

It grew 11.8 per cent in the second quarter of 2022, mainly led by a boost in the oil sector, according to data released by Gastat last month.

Non-oil economic activity also climbed 5.4 per cent in the three-month period to the end of June, supporting the growth of the Arab world’s largest economy.

Non-oil growth will increase to 4.2 per cent in 2022 before returning to its medium-term potential of 4 per cent, according to the IMF.

Despite the recent high volatility in the oil market, owing to Ukraine war-related trade and production disruptions, the price of Brent is expected to average $103.88 a barrel this year, its highest level since 2013, according to IMF projections.

This is about 50 per cent higher than the 2021 average, with prices expected to fall to $91.07 in 2023.

Even with rising concerns about a potential global recession and rising inflation that have derailed the momentum of the economic recovery from the pandemic, data points to oil demand holding up in the third quarter of this year at an average of 100.3 million barrels per day, from 98.7 million bpd in the second quarter, according to MUFG Bank estimates.

Brent, the global benchmark for two thirds of the world's oil, was trading 1.18 per cent higher at $101.40 a barrel at 3.23pm UAE time on Wednesday. West Texas Intermediate, the gauge that tracks US crude, was also up 1.18 per cent at $94.85 a barrel.

In the second quarter, the kingdom's imports increased nearly 22 per cent to 171bn riyals, compared with 140.4bn riyals in the same period last year, according to Gastat.

The top imported goods were machinery and mechanical appliances, electrical equipment and transport equipment.

A View shows the port and the city of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia taken on November 30, 2008. (Salah Malkawi/ The National)

China continued to remain the top trading partner of Saudi Arabia with exports amounting to 63.4bn riyals. India and Japan followed next with exports of 43.5bn riyals and 39.1bn riyals, respectively.

South Korea, the US, the UAE, Egypt, Taiwan, Bahrain and Singapore made up the rest of the top 10 export destinations.

Exports from Saudi Arabia to the 10 countries and territories amounted to 280.9bn riyals — accounting for 65.4 per cent of total exports.

Meanwhile, Saudi imports from China amounted to 34bn riyals in the second quarter, making it the top source of imports into the kingdom. China was followed by the US and the UAE, with imports of 15.4bn riyals and 11.2bn riyals, respectively.

Updated: August 25, 2022, 3:34 AM