May 8, 2021


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Khashoggi reports that Saudi Arabia’s credit rating is ‘unlikely’ to change Business and Economic News

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The United States said last week that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved an operation to capture or kill Jamal Khashoggi.

S&P Global said Saudi Arabia’s credit rating should not be affected by last week’s US report that the Kingdom’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, had approved a deal aimed at capturing or killing murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

Saudi Arabia’s A credit rating, like all sovereign ratings, includes an assessment of its institutional setup. This element is currently rated 4 in a 1 to 6 rating system where 1 is best and 6 is worst.

S&P’s explanation of the score, which is one of the seven elements of the overall score, cites “limited predictability of future policy responses due to highly centralized decision-making” as well as “regional security risk. reasonably high ”.

“The recalibration of US-Saudi relations is unlikely to change this assessment,” Frank Gill, S&P senior sovereign analyst for the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, told Reuters news agency.

Khashoggi, a U.S. resident who wrote opinion columns for the Washington Post criticizing bin Salman’s policies, was killed and dismembered by a team of agents linked to the prince in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.

The Saudi government, which has denied any involvement by the crown prince, issued a statement rejecting the findings of the report by the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence and repeated its previous statements that Khashoggi’s murder was a heinous crime committed by a group of thugs. .

In a TV interview on Friday, US President Joe Biden said he told Saudi King Salman that Saudi Arabia must tackle human rights abuses as a precondition for its relations with the United States.

U.S. officials have also said they are considering canceling arms sales to Saudi Arabia that pose human rights concerns and limiting future sales to “defensive” weapons, as the United States reassesses its relations with the kingdom and their role in the war in Yemen.

Neither Moody’s nor Fitch – two major rating agencies – would comment on whether the findings of Washington’s Khashoggi report would impact their respective Saudi sovereign ratings.

Gill of S&P added that the recent recovery in oil prices was a boon for the world’s largest oil producer. It could gain further momentum this week if, as expected, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries agrees to start easing its COVID-related production cuts.

S&P’s most recent forecast predicted Saudi Arabia’s debt to grow to around 46% of gross domestic product by 2023, up from 20% in 2019 and virtually zero in 2014. The oil industry accounts for around 40% of gross domestic product. the economy of the kingdom.

“At the margin, it’s very positive,” said Gill, referring to the benefit of rising oil prices.

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