Muscat, aug 26 – Oman’s trade balance — the difference in value between its exports and imports — surged almost 50 per cent to reach a value of RO 1.266 billion during the first quarter of this year, up from RO 857 million for the corresponding period of last, according to the Central Bank of Oman (CBO). The increase provides further evidence of a positive rebound under way in the Omani economy, spurred by a strong uptick in international crude oil prices and coupled with measures to rein in domestic spending.
The price of Omani crude averaged $63.9 per barrel during the first half of this year (January-June) as against $51.8 per barrel for the same period of last year, the apex bank stated in its monthly review of banking and monetary developments for June.
“Inflationary conditions continued to remain benign in the Sultanate and the average consumer inflation moderated to 0.7 per cent during January-June 2018 from 1.9 per cent in the same period last year,” it noted in its review.
The banking sector also posted significant gains in supporting economic activities by catering to the credit requirements of various segments of the economy, the Central Bank said. It cited in this regard the various regulatory amendments issued by the bank that gave “more space for banks to extend credit for stimulating economic activities in the Sultanate.”
The combined balance sheet of conventional and Islamic banks and windows (other depository corporations) indicate that the total outstanding credit extended by other depository corporations (ODCs) increased by 6.1 per cent to RO 24.3 billion as of June-end 2018. Credit extended to the private sector rose by 5.1 per cent to RO 21.7 billion.
“The disaggregated information on private sector credit exhibits that the non-financial corporate sector gained the highest (45.8 per cent), followed by the household sector (45.5 per cent), financial corporations (4.9 per cent) and other sectors (3.8 per cent),” the Central Bank said.
Total deposits held by banks grew 4.5 per cent to RO 22.3 billion as of end-June 2018. Private sector deposits increased 4.7 per cent to RO 14.2 billion. Of this total, the contribution of households was 49.4 per cent, followed by non-financial corporations (29.6 per cent), financial corporations (18.5 per cent) and other sectors (2.5 per cent).
The upbeat figures come on the back of an 8.7 per cent growth in Oman’s nominal GDP during 2017, versus a contraction of 3.0 per cent in 2016.
The recovery in oil price since the second half of 2017 resulted in hydrocarbon sector growth at 20.8 per cent during the year in comparison with a decline of 20.7 per cent in 2016 and 39.2 per cent in 2015, according to the Central Bank.