SA economy back in the black

25 November 2009

South Africa has come out of its first recession in 17 years. The economy registered 0.9% growth for the third quarter of 2009, Statistics SA reports, warning however that long-term indicators remain negative and that the country faces a slow recovery.

“The seasonally adjusted real GDP at market prices for the third quarter of 2009 increased by an annualized 0.9% compared with the second quarter of 2009,” Stats SA said on Tuesday.

The revised gross domestic product (GDP) figure for the second quarter came in at -2.8% from an earlier -3%. Overall, the unadjusted real GDP at market prices for the first nine months of 2009 decreased by -1.8 percent compared with the first nine months of 2008.

Growth contributors

The main contributors to the low growth in economic activity for the third quarter of 2009 were the manufacturing industry (contributing 1.1 percentage points), general government services (0.7 of a percentage point), construction and personal services (0.2 of a percentage point each).

Negative contributions by other industries included finance, real estate and business services, and mining and quarrying (each contributing -0.3 of a percentage point), agriculture, forestry and fishing (-0.2 of a percentage point), and wholesale and retail trade, hotels and restaurants (-0.1 of a percentage point).

“You should however keep in mind that the unadjusted number for the same quarter came in at -2.1%,” said Stats SA executive manager Joe De Beer. “So the short-term indicators seem to tell us that the economy is picking up, but the long-term indicators still remain negative.”

‘Initial signs are good’

The South African economy contracted for the previous three quarters in a row, but the latest positive growth figure means the country is no longer technically in a recession.

Commenting on the results, Nedbank economist Isaac Matshego said: “We expected it. This means that the man on the street can start thinking of things getting better.

“Initial signs are good but the outlook is not as rosy; it’s going to take some time,” Matshego said.

SAinfo reporter and BuaNews

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