Bahrain economy grew 3.9% in 2012 - gov't estimate

Non-oil sectors helped to counter a downturn in Gulf state's oil production

The Bahraini economy grew 3.9 percent in 2012, with non-oil sectors helping to counter a downturn in production, the country’s Economic Development Board (EDB) has estimated.

The economy grew at an annual pace of 4.4 percent during the first three quarters of the year before decelerating, but the EDB said the overall recovery showed a “strong forward momentum beyond the rebound effect seen in the first half of 2012”, following growth of only 1.9 percent during 2011.

It expected growth to reach 6 percent this year as oil production return to normal levels. It was temporarily affected by technical faults in the main offshore Abu Sa’afa field last year.

Bahrain’s onshore filed, Tatweer Petroleum, is expected to gradually increase capacity to about 47,500 barrels per day in 2013.

In its latest Economic Quarterly Report, released on Tuesday, the EDB said the rebound was led by non-oil sectors, particularly a “significant increase” in lending by Bahraini retail banks.

“The country’s retail banks are in generally robust health and have been working to remobilise their liquidity after a period of elevated risk aversion,” the report says.

The EDB said although the global situation remained risky, the Bahraini economy was “fairly resilient” to external shocks and it would benefit from a favourable outlook for the regional economy.

“The main concerns are associated with temporary corrections in the oil price as global economic shocks could lead to demand erosion,” the report said.

Ratings agency Standard & Poor’s recently revised its outlook on the kingdom from ‘negative’ to ‘stable’.

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