The final word is out namely that of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) economies collectively experienced an outstanding performance in 2012. Amongst others, these results relate to values of gross domestic products (GDP), exports, and sovereign wealth.
A recently-released study by the National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) estimates nominal GDP of the GCC bloc stood at a record $1.56 trillion (Dh5.73 trillion) in 2012, up from $1.44 trillion in 2011. In effect, the value of GDP of GCC countries ranks behind the GDPs of the US, China, Japan, Germany, France, the UK, Brazil, Italy, Russia, India and Canada.
The IMF puts global GDP at $71.3 trillion in 2012 for under 200 nations. As such, the value of GCC economies represent 2.2 per of the world’s total, certainly a sizable amount.
In comparison, the European Union controls some 23 per cent of worldwide GDP, making it the world’s largest economic bloc. However, the EU comprises of 27 members and includes powerful economies like those of Germany, France, and the UK, to name a few.
Not surprisingly, some GCC member states are contributing more than others to regional GDP. The contributions of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain amounted to 47 per cent, 23 per cent, 12 per cent, 11 per cent, 5 per cent and 2 per cent, respectively.
In fact, the size of Saudi Arabia’s GDP alone ranks number 19 in the world. The country is competing with Turkey and the Netherlands for better ranking amongst the top 20 economies, and is the sole Arab country in the G-20, in turn comprising the world’s largest economies.
Interestingly, Qatar rather than Kuwait ranks the thirds largest economy within the GCC bloc. The credit partly goes to developments within the petroleum industry, with Qatar emerging as the largest exporter in the world for liquefied natural gas (LNG).
For its part, Saudi Arabia remains the largest oil exporter in the world. What’s more, the kingdom is deemed to retain this position on the back of reportedly enjoying sustained output of up to 12 million barrels per day, some 2 million per day above on-going production level.
In reality, the NBAD report estimates the value of total exports from the GCC states at about $1 trillion in 2012, another record. Certainly, the credit is reserved to steady oil output and prices during the year.
To be sure, the hydrocarbons sector accounted for more than two thirds of total exports, clearly not a positive sign of economic diversifications. However, other sources of exports were equally strong like aluminium products.
Still, petroleum statistics only confirm continued availability of oil and gas for decades to come. According to the authoritative BP Statistical Review of World Energy, Saudi Arabia controls some 16.1 per cent of proven crude oil reserves, second only to Venezuela.
For its part, Qatar controls around 12 per cent of known gas reserves in the world after Russia and Iran but ahead of Turkmenistan. However, Qatar stands out for making inroads in the field on the back of production and sharing agreements with international oil firms.
Last but not least, GCC countries boast 35 per cent of the global sovereign wealth funds or $1.77 trillion of $5.2 trillion as of start of 2013. Certainly, earnings of the petroleum sector plays a critical in accumulation of such wealth, in turn providing cushion for the international business community when dealing with the GCC economies.
Undoubtedly, prosperity of global economy partly rests on contributions made by GCC countries.
The writer is a Member of Parliament in Bahrain.