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S. Africa's Economic Growth in 2017 Offers "Cautious Cheer"

The South African economy grew 3.1 percent in the fourth quarter, making the yearly growth at 1.3 percent, beating Treasury's estimates of 1 percent, said Statistics SA Tuesday.

This is a vast improvement on the dismal 0.3 percent GDP growth in 2016 but remains weak by the country's historic standards.

"In a time when good news seems hard to come by, the latest GDP results provide some cautious cheer," Statistics SA said in a statement.

In the third quarter, the economy grew by 2.3 percent quarter on quarter, demonstrating a resilience that suggested it was in better shape than most economists had previously thought.

Expenditure on real GDP increased by 3.1 percent in the fourth quarter, while final consumption expenditure by general government increased by 1.3 percent.

Treasury is expecting growth to rise to 1.5 percent in 2018 on political and policy certainty, renewed confidence and rising private fixed investment.

South Africa Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene told reporters in Pretoria on Monday that economic growth forecasts would be revised upwards due to improved business and investor confidence.

"Prospects look good for an improvement in growth forecasts," Nene said.

Growth for 2016 was revised up to 0.6 percent from 0.3 percent.

The changes were based on better access to data sets, said Statistics SA deputy director-general Joe de Beer.

The revisions indicate that South Africa was not plunged into a recession last year. A recession is based on two consecutive quarters of negative growth.

The performance in the fourth quarter of 2016 has been revised to growth of 0.4 percent from a 0.3 percent contraction.

The presidency on Tuesday applauded Statistics SA's finding.

"While GDP growth remains subject to a broad range of market factors and can fluctuate based on such factors, the fourth quarter improvement should motivate all South Africans," the Presidency said in a statement.

(Xinhua News Agency, March 7, 2018)  


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