By Staff writer
Country's surplus falls to $3.5bn in fourth quarter of 2015 as low oil prices slash export revenues
Kuwait's foreign trade surplus shrank 68.7 percent from a year earlier to KD1.05 billion ($3.5 billion) in the fourth quarter of 2015 as low oil prices slashed export revenues, data from the Central Statistical Bureau has showed.
The figure comes just days after Moody's Investors Service cut its outlook for the debt ratings of four Gulf states including Kuwait, citing concern over the impact of low oil prices on their finances.
In January, Kuwait's finance ministry said that the Gulf oil exporter's 2016-17 draft budget forecasts a deficit of 12.2 billion dinar ($40.2 billion), nearly 50 percent higher than the previous year, due to falling crude prices.
The ministry said expected revenues will be 7.4 billion dinars while expenditures are expected to be 18.9 billion dinars, a drop of 1.6 percent from a year earlier.
The deficit for the fiscal year, which runs from April 1 to end of March, includes 0.7 billion dinars contribution to the Generations Fund, a nest egg for when oil supplies diminish or the economy suffers other shocks.
Kuwait is planning to develop five islands off its coastline into business free zones, part of the country’s bid to diversify its economy away from its focus on energy.
The Supreme Council for Planning and Development is studying plans to develop the islands of Boubyan, Failaka, Warba, Miskan and Awha, the Kuwait News Agency (Kuna) reported earlier this year.
The free zone plans will be based on international models and will depend on foreign investment to bring to fruition.