5 September 2017

South Africa: SA Economy Exits Technical Recession

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(file photo).

South Africa's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 2.5% in the second quarter of 2017, Statistician General Pali Lehohla said on Tuesday.

At a media briefing in Tshwane, Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) announced that GDP grew by 2.5% quarter-on-quarter (q-o-q) following a contraction of 0.7% in the first quarter and a 0.3% contraction in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Economists had expected GDP to rise to 2.3%.

"We estimate real GDP growth to improve to 2.3% q-o-q on an annualised basis from the first quarter's 0.7% contraction. The growth from the low base in the first quarter will mainly be driven by improvements in mining, manufacturing, agriculture and trade," said Nedbank economists earlier this week in a research note.

Tuesday's data shows that South Africa has moved out of a technical recession following two quarters of negative growth. GDP figures showed that the largest positive contributor to growth in the second quarter was the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry, which showed an increase of 33.6% and contributed 0.7% to GDP growth.

Joe De Beer, the Deputy Director-General responsible for Economic Statistics, said the 33.6% growth was most likely driven by the record maize crop for this year. Meanwhile, electricity contributed 8.8%, while mining, at 3.9%, contributed 0.3% to GDP growth.

Nominal GDP was estimated at R1 145 billion in the second quarter of 2017.

Expenditure on GDP was at 2.4% quarter-on-quarter and 0.8% year-on-year.

Household final consumption expenditure was at 4.7% quarter-on-quarter contributing 2.8% to total growth. After the second quarter, clothing and footwear were at 26.7%, while food and non-alcohol beverages were at 10.1%, contributing 1.9%. However, education (at -0.9%), transport and restaurants and hotels contributed negatively.

Government final consumption expenditure increased by 0.8% quarter-on-quarter. An increase in purchases of goods and services was recorded.

Net exports contributed positively to growth in expenditure in GPD at 14.4%, while the imports of goods and services was up at 13.3% quarter-on-quarter, largely driven by imports of machinery and equipment.

Answering questions in the National Assembly in June, President Jacob Zuma said government would forge ahead and implement pro-growth intervention measures to reignite growth after the economy slipped into a technical recession.

At the time, the President said interventions that will be implemented to mitigate the effects of the technical recession would be in the areas of energy, manufacturing, transport, telecommunications, water, tourism and the oceans economy, among others.

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