Bahrain Economy - 2021


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Economic overview

Oil and natural gas play a dominant role in Bahrain’s economy. Despite the Government’s past efforts to diversify the economy, oil still comprises 85% of Bahraini budget revenues. In the last few years lower world energy prices have generated sizable budget deficits - about 10% of GDP in 2017 alone. Bahrain has few options for covering these deficits, with low foreign assets and fewer oil resources compared to its GCC neighbors. The three major US credit agencies downgraded Bahrain’s sovereign debt rating to "junk" status in 2016, citing persistently low oil prices and the government’s high debt levels. Nevertheless, Bahrain was able to raise about $4 billion by issuing foreign currency denominated debt in 2017.

Other major economic activities are production of aluminum - Bahrain's second biggest export after oil and gas –finance, and construction. Bahrain continues to seek new natural gas supplies as feedstock to support its expanding petrochemical and aluminum industries. In April 2018 Bahrain announced it had found a significant oil field off the country’s west coast, but is still assessing how much of the oil can be extracted profitably.

In addition to addressing its current fiscal woes, Bahraini authorities face the long-term challenge of boosting Bahrain’s regional competitiveness — especially regarding industry, finance, and tourism — and reconciling revenue constraints with popular pressure to maintain generous state subsidies and a large public sector. Since 2015, the government lifted subsidies on meat, diesel, kerosene, and gasoline and has begun to phase in higher prices for electricity and water. As part of its diversification plans, Bahrain implemented a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the US in August 2006, the first FTA between the US and a Gulf state. It plans to introduce a Value Added Tax (VAT) by the end of 2018.

Real GDP growth rate

2.49% (2019 est.)

13.89% (2018 est.)

3.85% (2017 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

1.4% (2017 est.)

2.8% (2016 est.)

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: B+ (2020)

Moody's rating: B2 (2018)

Standard & Poors rating: B+ (2017)

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$73.87 billion (2019 est.)

$72.55 billion (2018 est.)

$71.282 billion (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$38.472 billion (2019 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$45,011 (2019 est.)

$46,227 (2018 est.)

$47,710 (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

Gross national saving

29.9% of GDP (2018 est.)

28.9% of GDP (2017 est.)

21.2% of GDP (2016 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 0.3% (2017 est.)

industry: 39.3% (2017 est.)

services: 60.4% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 45.8% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 15.5% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 26.1% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 0.4% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 80.2% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -67.9% (2017 est.)

Ease of Doing Business Index scores

Overall score: 76 (2020)

Starting a Business score: 89.6 (2020)

Trading score: 78.7 (2020)

Enforcement score: 63.8 (2020)

Agricultural products

mutton, dates, milk, poultry, tomatoes, fruit, sheep offals, sheep skins, eggs, pumpkins


petroleum processing and refining, aluminum smelting, iron pelletization, fertilizers, Islamic and offshore banking, insurance, ship repairing, tourism

Industrial production growth rate

0.6% (2017 est.)

Labor force

831,600 (2017 est.)

note: excludes unemployed; 44% of the population in the 15-64 age group is non-national

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 1%

industry: 32%

services: 67% (2004 est.)

Unemployment rate

3.6% (2017 est.)

3.7% (2016 est.)

note: official estimate; actual rate is higher

Population below poverty line


Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA

highest 10%: NA


revenues: 5.854 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 9.407 billion (2017 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

16.6% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-10.1% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

Public debt

88.5% of GDP (2017 est.)

81.4% of GDP (2016 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

-$1.6 billion (2017 est.)

-$1.493 billion (2016 est.)


$27.635 billion (2018 est.)

$26.762 billion (2017 est.)

Exports - partners

United Arab Emirates 31%, Saudi Arabia 12%, Japan 8%, United States 8% (2019)

Exports - commodities

refined petroleum, aluminum and plating, crude petroleum, iron ore, gold (2019)


$23.399 billion (2018 est.)

$22.132 billion (2017 est.)

Imports - partners

United Arab Emirates 27%, China 11%, Saudi Arabia 7%, United States 5%, Brazil 5%, Japan 5%, India 5% (2019)

Imports - commodities

cars, iron ore, jewelry, gold, gas turbines (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$2.349 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$3.094 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

Debt - external

$52.15 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$42.55 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

Exchange rates

Bahraini dinars (BHD) per US dollar -

0.37705 (2020 est.)

0.37705 (2019 est.)

0.377 (2018 est.)

0.376 (2014 est.)

0.376 (2013 est.)

NOTE: The information regarding Bahrain on this page is re-published from the 2021 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Bahrain 2021 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Bahrain 2021 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 16 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.