An increase in government spending, elevated oil prices and financial support from Saudi Arabia will very likely help to bolster growth in Bahrain over the course of 2013. However, a return to precrisis rates of real GDP growth above 7% remains off the cards in the near term. We have revised up our forecasts for real GDP growth, and now project the economy expanding by 3.5% and 3.9% in 2013 and 2014 respectively. We are, however, projecting a slight slowdown in household consumption in 2013, and have pencilled in growth of 4.5%, from an estimated 5.0% in 2012.
Headline Industry Data (local currency)
- 2013 food consumption growth = +6.6% year-on-year (y-o-y); compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to 2017 = +7.7%
- 2013 soft drink value sales growth = +5.7% y-o-y; CAGR to 2017 = +6.8%
- 2013 mass grocery retail sales = +8.2% y-o-y; CAGR to 2017 = +9.5%
Key Company Trends
Cargill Forms Saudi Arabian JV: In early 2013, US food producer Cargill and Saudi Arabia's Arabian Agricultural Services Company (Arasco) announced their intention to set up a new starches and sweeteners joint venture (JV) in Saudi Arabia. The new JV will buy Arasco's existing corn milling plant in Al Kharj and will manufacture starch-based products for the Gulf Cooperation Council states besides Yemen, Iraq and Jordan.
SPAR International Launches In Gulf Region: In early 2013, SPAR International announced plans to launch in the Gulf region, aiming to have 30 stores in the region by the end of 2015. The retailer is partnering with Abu Dhabi Cooperative Society, a local retailer, for its Middle East entry and expansion. Abu Dhabi Cooperative Society will open Spar stores in the UAE under licence. The group will also have the option to sub-license Spar 'to suitable partners' in the wider Middle East and North Africa region.
Key Risks To Outlook
Oil Prices Could Pose Risk: A marked drop in oil prices concomitant with a slowdown in growth in Europe, the US and China would pose a significant risk to the country's near-term growth outlook, and likely lead to a marked deterioration to the country's balance of payments and fiscal dynamics. In terms of the latter, Bahrain's break-even oil price is now between US$115/bbl and US$120/bbl, which is by far the highest in the Gulf. Meanwhile, a more pronounced regional crisis stemming from an uptick in tensions between Iran and the West could see risk premiums spike higher, particularly for Bahrain.