Rating agency Fitch has downgraded Saudi Arabia’s credit rating from A+ to A citing geopolitical risks and a downturn in the kingdom’s fiscal position. Riyadh called Fitch’s decision “somewhat speculative.”
“The downgrade reflects rising geopolitical and military tensions in the Gulf region, Fitch’s revised assessment of the vulnerability of Saudi Arabia’s economic infrastructure and continued deterioration in Saudi Arabia’s fiscal and external balance sheets,” the New York-based agency said in a statement on Monday. The firm put the kingdom’s long-term foreign currency issuer default rating from A+ to A, while stating that the outlook remains stable.
The downgrade comes just over two weeks after the drone and cruise missile attacks on Saudi state-run Aramco oil facilities, which for a short time nearly halved crude production of the world’s largest oil exporter. Riyadh, as well as close ally Washington, blamed the attacks on Iran, while Tehran has denied any wrongdoing.
“In our view, Saudi Arabia is vulnerable to escalating geopolitical tensions given its prominent foreign policy stance, including its close alignment with US policy on Iran and its continued involvement in the Yemen war,” Fitch stated, noting there is a possibility of a deeper conflict with Iran.
“Although oil production was restored fully by end-September, we believe that there is a risk of further attacks on Saudi Arabia, which could result in economic damage,” the agency added.
Fitch’s downgrade comes at a bad time for Saudi Arabia, which recently announced plans to issue international bonds, and Fitch’s rating could negatively affect their price.
S&P Global Ratings last week confirmed the kingdom’s A rating, yet it also voiced concerns that the country could be hit with repeated foreign attacks, stating that in such case its rating could face downward pressure.