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Australia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Barbados, Guyana and Jamaica Country Risk Report Q4 2016; New Report Launched

Market Research Reports, Inc. has announced the addition of “Australia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Barbados, Guyana and Jamaica Country Risk Report Q4 2016” research report to their website


Lewes, DE -- (SBWIRE) -- 08/29/2016 -- Real GDP growth is highly likely to slow over the coming years owing to a number of factors: slowing growth in the working age population; a high share of government spending relative to GDP; a reversal in the country's terms of trade; and the growing risk of deflation. These impediments will result in real GDP growth averaging 2.3% over the next decade, down from 2.7% over the past decade. Australia's Liberal-National coalition formed the government for a second term, following the July 2 federal elections, but we believe that it will not be able to significantly improve the country's business environment and economic growth prospects over the coming years. The coalition's expected lack of majority in the Senate suggests that risks of policies being delayed and diluted are high. Additionally, the coalition's narrow margin of victory against the opposition Australian Labour Party is a significant setback for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and there is an increasing possibility that his leadership position might be challenged, which would create further uncertainty for businesses.

We remain bearish on the Australian dollar despite the large fall we have already seen in the currency. While valuations are no longer a headwind to the currency, the trend remains very bearish. Weak economic growth owing to falling investment and correction in the property market amid elevated indebtedness does not bode well for the AUD. Fiscal reforms in Australia – notably expenditure cuts – will likely be held back due to political gridlock, particularly in the Senate, and we believe that the government led by the Liberal-National coalition will be unable to return the federal budget to a balance by its target of FY2020/21 (July-June).

While there is currently no danger of a fiscal crisis, our core view is that this growing burden of the government will undermine the productivity of the private sector and take its toll on economic growth over the medium term. Following the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA)'s 25 basis point (bps) cut to its cash rate to a fresh historical low of 1.50% at its August monetary policy meeting, we expect the central bank to keep its key policy rate steady for the rest of 2016 as it looks to assess the impact of its accommodative monetary policy stance. That said, we forecast the RBA to cut interest rates further by another 25bps to 1.25% by H117 as the Australian economy weakens while belowtarget inflation persists. Major Forecast Changes We upgraded our 2016 real GDP growth forecasts to 2.4% (from 2.1% previously) as a result of Australia's stronger-than-expected Q116 real GDP expansion of 4.3% q-o-q in seasonally adjusted annualised terms. Nevertheless, we maintain our 2017 real GDP growth forecast of 2.2% as the strong export performance is unlikely to be sustained as China's economy weakens, while the unwinding investment boom in the mining sector will be further compounded by weakness in the housing market.

We revised our average 2016 Australian dollar forecast stronger to USD0.7400/AUD (versus USD0.7300/AUD previously) owing to the AUD's strength since the start of 2016. However, the country's high level of external indebtedness still leaves the currency exposed to capital outflows amid a slow transition away from its reliance on the mining sector and a weakening residential property market.

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Partisan manoeuvring, ethnic divisions, and complex governing structures combine to make Bosnia-Herzegovina's political system largely dysfunctional. With few signs that radical improvements are forthcoming even after the country's agreement over the EU accession process, we expect the coming years to be tainted by frustrating delays to badly-needed reforms. After outperforming in 2015, economic growth is set to subside somewhat in the coming years due to external headwinds and internal impediments to economic activity. Budget policy will be anchored by the three-year IMF lending agreement, especially as the entity governments rely on external funding to cover budget deficits.

This should ensure short-term financial stability and fiscal discipline, though has so far done little to address structural problems. Major Forecast Changes We have revised down our forecast for GDP growth in 2016 and 2017 to 2.7% and 2.9%, respectively, due to the anticipated slowdown in export growth amid weaker demand from many EU states, post-Brexit vote. As price pressures fail to materialise so far in 2016, we have lowered our target for full-year average inflation to -0.3%, rising to 1.1% in 2017.

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Botswana will see a gradual recovery in real GDP growth over the next five years, supported by private consumption and fixed investment. However, a combination of sluggish mining sector exports and rising capital goods imports will widen the trade deficit, tempering the extent of the growth. Low diamond prices will sustain pressure on Botswana's external accounts over the next year, as export revenues and inward investment remain sluggish. However, a relatively strong reserve position and an investor-friendly business environment will ensure these dynamics do not become a lasting drag on the overall health of the economy.

A benign outlook for inflation and a change to our monetary policy forecast for South Africa have led us to adjust downwards our forecast for the key policy rate in Botswana in 2016. With inflation stable but credit growth and confidence surveys low, the Bank of Botswana will focus on supporting economic growth. Botswana's budget deficit will widen to the largest level in six years in 2016 as the government seeks to implement fiscal stimulus. We forecast a smaller deficit than the government, as project realisation will be low. The ruling Botswana Democratic Party will continue to dominate policymaking in the coming quarters, aided by forthcoming changes to the composition of the legislature and underpinning our view for policy continuity in the coming quarters.

These changes to the legislature will not be sufficient to head off fragmentation within the ruling party during the 2018 handover of power from the current president to an interim successor. The Botswanan pula will resume its depreciatory course before year-end 2016, in line with our view for the South African rand to bounce off resistance. A sell-off in the rand, one of the currencies the pula is pegged to with a crawling exchange rate, will see this trend continue through 2017, entailing some modest depreciation.

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Bulgaria's GDP growth in the coming years will recover but stay modest by emerging market standards. We forecast the economy to grow by 2.4% in 2016 and 2.6% in 2017. Private consumption will continue to be the main economic growth driver, as Bulgaria remains unable to attract foreign investment, which has bolstered GDP-growth in the past. We are forecasting Bulgaria's budget deficit to remain under 3.0% of GDP in the years ahead and although the overall debt level will rise, it will stay at a low level compared to regional peers. Bulgarian goods export will slow in the coming years as demand from key trading partners will weaken as a consequence of the Brexit referendum. Nevertheless, we expect services exports to perform strongly, as the county's tourism sector stands to benefit from political instability and security threats in rival tourist destinations. By the end of 2016, Bulgaria's price levels will start growing again, after experiencing the deepest deflationary period (after Greece and Cyprus) in the European Union.

Major Forecast Changes
We have revised down our GDP growth forecast, as the Brexit referendum will entail weaker European demand for Bulgarian goods exports. We now forecast the Bulgaria's economy to grow by 2.4% in 2016 and 2.6% in 2017. By virtue of weakening goods exports we changed our current account forecast from 1.9% of GDP to 1.8% and from 1.9% to 1.6% in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

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We believe that the English-speaking Caribbean will continue to see a modest economic recovery in the coming quarters as US growth continues. A strengthening US consumer will boost tourism to the region, driving growth in tourism-dependent economies. Financial services will continue to struggle due to tightening financial regulation in developed economies, while lower precious metals prices will weaken the macroeconomic outlook for the region's miners.

That said, growth will remain stronger in the region's mining-driven economies than in its predominantly tourism-driven countries. Caribbean economies will continue to face economic headwinds in the coming years in light of rising debt burdens, fixed exchange rate regimes, and modest growth prospects. These factors, combined with our view that financial services sectors will see a significant recovery in the next few years, mean that we do not rule out additional credit events or major balance of payments corrections in some of the small island economies.

Major Forecast Change
We now forecast Guyana's fiscal deficit to equal 5.2% of GDP in 2016, and downward revision from our previous 5.0% forecast, as the 2016 budget includes new capital expenditure.

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