Arab IMF Financial Reserves at $155 Billion Due to Strong Oil Markets

The International Monetary Fund?s (IMF) official data states that Arab financial reserves are, minus gold, $155 billion at the end of the third quarter of 2003, compared to $80.6 billion at the end of 1998.

The UAE used the surge in crude prices to increase its reserves by $6 billion, and, as of September, 2003, its reserves are now at $14.9 billion. While Algeria, despite its internal political problems, recorded its largest increase ever to $26.1 billion. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, and Yemen also reported large increases. Egypt was the only member to report a decline.

Saudi reserves, which fell to the lowest level ever of $5.9 billion in 1992 because of regional conflicts, recovered to $14.4 billion in 1998 and continued to grow to $23.1 billion in 2003.

Kuwait?s reserves also shot up from $3.9 billion to $8.8 billion, while Libya's and Morocco?s soared from $7.3 billion and $4.4 billion to $15.6 billion and 10.3 billion respectively.

The oil price plunge in 1998 to $10 per barrel pushed earnings to only $82 billion, but they recovered to around $118 billion in 1999 on price increases. In 2000, when oil prices jumped above $27 a barrel, Arab earnings surged to one of their highest levels of $188 billion before falling to $161.3 billion in 2001. Earnings slipped again to $143.8 billion in 2001, but 2003 earnings are expected to exceed $170 billion for 2003, as crude prices exceeded of over $28 per barrel.