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Businesses trading within Middle East and Northern African (MENA) economies can benefit from an insight report from trade credit insurer Atradius.

The Atradius MENA Country Report is the latest in a suite of free publications for businesses wanting to improve their knowledge of global trading conditions. The report analyses the political and economic situations of six major MENA countries as well as ranking the performance of individual sectors within each and assessing their political and credit risk.

As the report is published, Atradius reminds businesses that sound knowledge is the bedrock of successful international trade.

Alun Sweeney, Country Director for UK & Ireland at trade credit insurer Atradius, said: “Businesses are constantly striving to seek new trade opportunities, and build trading relationships, whether as a potential export or import partner. However, success in international trade only comes with the right business strategy which includes an expert insight into your chosen market.

“Changes in the political and economic landscape can have a major impact on your trading partner and potentially influence their ability to pay.  Businesses must ensure they are well equipped with up-to-date knowledge and analysis so they can separate good opportunities from ones fraught with risk. As a trade credit insurer, our role is not only about paying claims in the event of non-payment; we work with our customers from the beginning of a trade journey to help spot the right opportunities and to provide real time information about individual companies as well as the wider market, to help mitigate against the risks and facilitate a successful trade relationship.”

Highlights from the Atradius MENA Country Report:

  • Algeria: As revenues from oil and gas have fallen, GDP growth is expected to slow to 1.5% this year and 1.7% in 2018 with a negative impact on investments, private consumption, and external finances.  Increased taxes and import restrictions have led to rising consumer prices and decreasing household purchasing power. The strongest performing industries are chemicals and energy, ranked with a ‘good’ performance outlook. Most other industries, including consumer durables, food and metals, have been ranked as ‘fair’ but the paper sector has been given a ‘poor’ outlook.
  • Egypt: Economic growth is expected to decrease in 2017 as the sharp inflation increase will restrain consumer demand. Prices for importing into Egypt have increased dramatically due to a dramatic currency depreciation. However, businesses looking to purchase from Egypt will benefit from this external competitiveness. The broad outlook for individual sectors in Egypt is ‘fair’ – which includes automotive, services, textiles and construction. However, faring slightly worse are the electronics/ICT and paper industries with a ‘poor’ performance outlook.
  • Morocco: Economic growth is expected to accelerate to 4% this year after a modest 1.4% increase in 2016 – mainly due to a drought affecting the agriculture sector. Structural reforms to diversify its economy include developing industrial manufacturing, especially in export-driven sectors. Automotive, energy and financial services are the strongest sectors in Morocco, with a ‘good’ performance outlook.  Whereas, construction, electronics/ICT and paper have a ‘poor’ outlook with all other sectors, including agriculture, consumer durables and steel, ranked as ‘fair’.
  • Saudi Arabia: Economic growth is expected to contract 0.5% in 2017 on the back of fiscal austerity, declining investment and a bigger than expected cut in oil production, before recovering to a range of about 2% in the medium term. There is a long-term transformation programme to diversify growth and reduce dependence on oil.

Agriculture and energy are the strongest performing sectors with a ‘good’ outlook and financial services, metals and machines, are ranked as a ‘fair’. However, construction, consumer durables and electronics/ ICT fare worse with a ‘poor’ performance outlook.

  • Tunisia: A 1.5% increase in GDP is expected this year as manufacturing and the tourism sector return to growth alongside an improvement in investor confidence and the adoption of legislation in banking and investment.  However, this rebound remains dependant on the security situation and any deterioration could hurt domestic demand and tourism.  Automotive, energy, financial services and food are all sectors performing well, with a ‘good’ outlook. Only paper has a ‘poor’ outlook with the remaining sectors rated with a ‘fair’ performance outlook, including electronics, services and consumer durables.
  • United Arab Emirates: The UAE has weathered the global oil price slump relatively well, supported by its increasingly diversified economy.  However, 2016 economic growth slowed down to 3% amid declining liquidity in the banking sector and weaker business sentiment.  Agriculture and services are the best performing industries with a ‘good’ outlook. Meanwhile, a ‘poor’ performance outlook is forecast for the construction, consumer durables, electronics/ICT, food, metals, steel and textiles sectors. Other sectors, including automotive, financial services and paper have a ‘fair’ outlook.