Saudi Arabia has topped bond sales in emerging markets (EM) this year as it presses ahead with giga-projects to transform its economy, according to new data.

The kingdom’s total issuance, including corporate and sovereign bonds, reached $33.2 billion in 2024, overtaking the $23.3 billion in sales made by China, which had been the top issuer of global debt among EMs for 12 years, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.

South Korea came third with $20 billion, followed by the UAE ($18.5 billion), Turkey ($17 billion), Poland ($16.8 billion), Brazil ($13.7 billion), Mexico ($13.2 billion), Romania ($12.1 billon) and Israel ($9.2 billion).

Saudi Arabia has attracted interest from debt investors worldwide, as the kingdom rolled out several projects under its ambitious Vision 2030 strategy.

The latest data indicate improving sentiment towards Saudi Arabia’s efforts to diversify income sources and reduce dependence on oil.

“Sentiment for Saudi bonds is very healthy,” Apostolos Bantis, Zurich-based managing director of fixed-income advisory at Union Bancaire Privee Ubp SA, told the news agency.

“It’s not a surprise that the kingdom has become the largest EM bond issuer given its large funding needs for large infrastructure projects.”

Saudi Arabia had previously forecast a fiscal deficit of SAR 79 billion ($21 billion) for this year, accounting for 1.9% of the gross domestic product (GDP).

(Writing by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria)