South African economy rebounds strongly after coronavirus crash

2020-12-10 21:00:57
South African economy rebounds strongly after coronavirus crash

South Africa's economy, the second largest in the continent, rebounded strongly in the third quarter of 2020 from a slump inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic, according to official data.

South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) expanded 13.5% quarter-on-quarter in July-September, "largely as a result of the easing of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions," statistics agency StatSA said in a statement.

The previous three months had brought a 16.6% contraction. In annualised terms, the statistics agency's preferred measure, third-quarter growth reached 66.1%, after falling back by 51.7% in April-June.

To this day, South Africa accounts for the most coronavirus infections of any African country, with almost 820,000 confirmed cases out of 2.3 million.

Leaders imposed a strict lockdown on March 27, aimed at controlling the virus' spread but which also hobbled the economy.

The government started to gradually loosen restrictions as new infections slowed during the third quarter, allowing economic activity to start picking back up.

Manufacturing, trade and mining were "the biggest drivers of growth in the third quarter," the statisticians said, contributing 16.2, 14.6 and 11.8 percentage points respectively to GDP growth.

"Despite the rebound, the economy is still 5.8% smaller than it was at the end of 2019," StatSA added.

The third-quarter bounce came in more powerful than had been predicted by analysts. The latest figures have technically propelled South Africa out of recession, defined as two successive quarters of shrinkage.

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