Saudi Arabia records highest first-quarter growth among G20 economies

Kingdom's economy expanded 10.4% on annual basis, driven by higher oil prices

Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh. The kingdom's economic output in the first three months of this year beat the quarterly performance of all other G20 countries. Bloomberg
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Saudi Arabia recorded the highest growth rate among the world's largest economies in the first quarter of this year, driven by the rally in oil prices.

The gross domestic product of the kingdom, the world's top oil-exporting country, grew an annual 10.4 per cent in the first three months of the year, compared with the G20 leading economies, which averaged 4.5 per cent growth during the period, according to the data released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on Tuesday.

Oil prices have rallied more than 70 per cent since last year and are hovering above $120 a barrel currently as the market remains tight due to supply shortages, years of underinvestment and rising demand as the US and Europe head into the summer season.

Brent, the global benchmark for two thirds of the world's oil trading is forecast to average $130 a barrel to the end of September and $125 for the subsequent three quarters, according to UBS Group.

Compared with the last quarter of 2021, Saudi Arabia's output was 2.6 per cent higher in the first three months of this year, beating the quarterly performance of all other G20 countries.

On an annual basis, the UK followed at 8.7 per cent, Turkey at 7.4 per cent, Italy at 6.2 per cent and Indonesia and China at 4.8 per cent each.

The GDP of G20 countries accounts for about 80 per cent of the world's economic output and is a bellwether of the global economy. The GDP of OECD countries represents about 45 per cent of the global economy.

GDP rose by 0.7 per cent, quarter on quarter, in the G20 area, according to provisional estimates, down from a 1.3 per cent increase recorded in the fourth quarter of 2021.

The slowdown in the G20 area in the first three months of this year mainly reflects weaker performance in the US, where GDP contracted by 0.4 per cent, quarter on quarter, after rising 1.7 per cent in the last three months of 2021.

Trade disruptions, inflation and the war in Ukraine, now in its fourth month, are weighing on the US economy and threaten to derail Europe’s recovery.

"The EU economy’s recovery from the Covid-19 impact was still firming up when the [Ukraine] war broke out. Heightened uncertainty and higher food, commodity and energy prices are impacting investment and sustainable and inclusive economic development,” said Ricardo Mourinho Félix, vice president at the European Investment Bank.

In Australia and Indonesia, growth slowed by more than 2 percentage points between the fourth quarter of 2021 and first three months of 2022.

Growth softened to a lesser extent in Canada, China, India, Italy, Korea, Turkey and the UK in the first quarter of 2022. The economies of France and Japan contracted by 0.2 per cent and 0.1 per cent, respectively.

In the 38 countries that make up the OECD, including a dozen G20 countries, GDP growth is now estimated at 0.3 per cent for the first quarter of 2022, revised from 0.1 per cent growth three weeks ago, based on the preliminary GDP releases of countries.

Among G7 countries, quarter-on-quarter GDP growth in the first three months of 2022 was revised upwards in Italy and Japan, and downwards in Canada and France.

The UK and South Africa exceeded their pre-coronavirus (fourth quarter of 2019) GDP level for the first time in the first three months of this year, by 0.7 per cent and 0.5 per cent, respectively, while Italy hit its pre-pandemic GDP level for the first time.

Among the G20 economies, the GDP of Germany, Japan and Mexico remained below pre-pandemic levels by 0.9 per cent, 0.6 per cent and 2.1 per cent, respectively, in the first quarter of 2022.

Updated: May 30, 2023, 11:42 AM