EghtesadOnline: Arab countries exported $50.4 billion worth of crude oil in the first quarter of 2016, according to data reported by local Arab media.
This is $24 billion less than the value of crude exports by the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) in the first quarter of 2015 and reflects the sharp drop in oil prices, which tanked below $30 in early 2016.
OAPEC noted in its monthly bulletin that Arab oil producers are facing serious challenges as a result of the oil price decline and that these challenges have spiraled out of the energy sector, affecting a range of other industries and facets of their national economies, Oil Price reported.
As a consequence, consumption and public spending have both been affected, OAPEC said.
According to Financial Tribune, measures taken to limit the damage included using public reserves to compensate for budget deficits, and cutting capital expenditure on public projects. Current expenditure, however, has so far remained untouched, as have most subsidies on basic consumer products.
The organization points out that the full effects of these measures may not be felt before the medium to long term, and that there is still urgent need for further measures to prop up the local economies and ensure their sustainable growth.
Focus is put on privatization for a range of sectors, from tourism to telecoms, in hopes of increasing government revenues from these industries while reducing the burden that comes with the responsibility of managing these sectors.
In addition, OAPEC members UAE, Qatar and Kuwait are increasingly counting on their sovereign funds, and Saudi Arabia is now planning to join their ranks by setting up the largest sovereign fund in the world.
The members of (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council are also working on a common tax reform. All in all, OAPEC says there is a long way to go and many obstacles remain, including legislation that needs updating and the need to borrow more, which is not something OAPEC members are comfortable with.