Weak crude demand causes MENA oil export economies to slow

Economic growth in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) oil-exporting countries is expected to fall this year, says an IMF report.

The expected 3.25% drop is caused by a relatively weak crude demand, according to the report and contrasts with a 5% expansion last year.

MENA oil exporters include Saudi Arabia and the other five Gulf Cooperation Council members, as well as Algeria, Libya, Iraq, Iran and Yemen.

Despite political uncertainty, decreased trade with Europe and high commodity prices, oil-importing MENA countries will experience healthier growth of 2.7% in 2013, close to one percent up on last year - boosted by Libya's recovering oil production and strong expansion in the Gulf.

However, national GDP in Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE, from both oil and non-oil sectors is likely to slow in 2013 and US-led sanctions over its disputed nuclear programme have affected Iran's economy.

Saudi Arabia's oil production is also expected to see a slight fall as a result of lower net demand. However, these declines have been more than offset by additional oil supplies from Iraq and Libya.