Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) markets are expected to outpace global growth on the back of macroeconomic tailwinds and higher government spending in diversified areas, according to Standard Chartered.

Additionally, bilateral trade negotiations and evolving economic partnerships will drive growth, the bank said in its 2023 financial results.

However, the macroeconomic risk remains elevated in some regional markets due to a high level of sovereign debt and FX liquidity challenges.

“Overall, Africa and the Middle East’s medium and long-term attractiveness remains compelling and intact,” the report said.

Standard Chartered reported an underlying profit before tax of $1.31 billion, the highest annual profit since 2015, up 66 percent year-on-year (YoY), driven by higher income and a net release in credit provisions partially offset by an increase in expenses.

Underlying operating income rose 14% YoY to $2.81 billion, with strong growth in cash management, retail deposits and financial markets.
Income was up 29% YoY in the Middle East, North Africa, and Pakistan and up 1% YoY in Africa. The UAE contributed 28% to the income.

Loans and advances to customers were up 8% YoY, and customer accounts have increased 4% since December 31, 2022.

(Editing by Seban Scaria.