S&P Global Ratings affirmed on Friday its AA/A-1+ sovereign credit rating for Abu Dhabi, with the Government’s large net asset position said to provide a “considerable buffer” against the impact of commodity market volatility.
“The stable outlook on Abu Dhabi reflects our expectation that economic growth will gradually pick up and its fiscal position will remain extremely strong over the next two years, although structural and institutional weaknesses will likely persist,” the rating agency said.
While the outlook for Abu Dhabi is “stable”, S&P said it would consider a negative rating action if the country’s fiscal deficits or contingent liabilities led to a drop in liquid assets to below 100 per cent of GDP.
A downward rating action could also follow domestic or regional events that compromised political and economic stability in Abu Dhabi, it added.
Meanwhile, a rating upgrade could come about if Abu Dhabi improves data transparency, for example on fiscal assets and external data, alongside further progress in institutional reforms and developing domestic capital markets, S&P said.
[ Abu Dhabi's economy to catch up with Dubai in 2018, IMF says ]
[ UAE's economy to strengthen in 2018, says IMF ]
[ S&P affirms Abu Dhabi's AA/A-1+ credit ratings as high cash reserves outweigh low oil prices ]
The IMF projects the UAE’s economy to rebound in 2018 after being hit by persistent low oil prices and muted global economic growth in the past few years.
The UAE’s overall economic growth is expected to grow 3.4 per cent in 2018, up from 1.7 per cent last year, the IMF said in October.
Abu Dhabi’s economy was hit harder by the economic downturn of recent years than its neighbour Dubai because it is the country’s biggest producer of oil and therefore relies more heavily on hydrocarbons than other emirates.
But the IMF has predicted Abu Dhabi’s economic growth will catch up with that of Dubai this year, as government-led infrastructure projects provide a boost to the capital’s non-oil economy.
At the same time on Friday, S&P affirmed its AA long-term foreign currency issue rating on the sovereign-guaranteed bond of senior unsecured debt issued by Waha Aerospace.