Saudi Arabia’s economy is in the midst of a transformative phase, marked by a concerted effort to reduce reliance on oil, expand revenue streams, and enhance global competitiveness
This pivotal juncture aligns with the halfway point of the ambitious Vision 2030 initiative. The latest annual review by the IMF underscores significant progress, particularly in the realm of non-oil sectors, which have seen a notable surge, averaging 4.8 percent growth in 2022. Despite some overall growth reduction due to additional oil production cuts, the non-oil sector is projected to maintain a close-to-5 percent growth trajectory in 2023, buoyed by robust domestic demand.
Driving this diversification is an improved regulatory and business landscape. Newly enacted laws aimed at fostering entrepreneurship, safeguarding investor rights, and reducing business operational costs have led to a remarkable 95 percent increase in new investment deals and a staggering 267 percent rise in issued licenses in 2022. The Saudi Investment Fund (PIF) has also played a pivotal role by infusing capital, particularly in catalyzing private sector investments.
Navigating the Path Forward:
The engine behind non-oil growth has been the surge in private non-oil investment, propelled by robust domestic demand. Sustaining this momentum hinges on the continued implementation of sound macroeconomic policies and unwavering commitment to the reform agenda, irrespective of shifts in oil markets.
However, challenges persist, particularly in ensuring that major projects yield returns and amplify productivity, a cornerstone for sustaining economic growth and furthering diversification. Continued efforts to cultivate an environment conducive to innovation and investments in workforce skills that align with diversification objectives are imperative.
Additionally, rationalizing fees and taxes faced by businesses, particularly at the local and city levels, will provide a significant impetus to private sector expansion. The expanding role of the PIF in the economy is poised to further invigorate private sector investments. Lastly, rigorous monitoring and evaluation are essential in mitigating risks associated with targeted interventions and industrial policies, ensuring that these measures, while important, do not supplant broader structural reforms and achieve their intended benefits.