The Real Economy Bulletin - Third Quarter 2017

Main BulletinThe Real Economy Bulletin - Third Quarter 2017

In this edition

GDP growth: The past six months have seen the GDP recover from the contraction that marked the previous six months. Still, growth remains more variable, and generally slower, than it was before 2014. Increased variability in the GDP results in part from the end of the commodity boom and in part from fluctuations in agriculture as a result of the 2015 drought. While mining and manufacturing have seen fairly stable growth, construction slowed markedly in the year to September 2017. Private investment has continued to fall, and was a significant drag on GDP growth in this period. Read more.

Employment: While total employment climbed in the third quarter of 2017, in figures that are not seasonally adjusted, employment in the real economy fell. The main factor behind job losses in the real economy was a sharp fall in construction employment, followed by manufacturing. In contrast, mining employment appears to have stabilised after significant job losses from the end of the commodity boom in 2011/12. Read more.

International trade: In dollar terms, exports have recovered rapidly over the past two quarters, mostly due to a sharp uptick in mining exports. Imports also increased, but at a slower rate, over this period. Manufacturing exports, however, declined from the third quarter of 2016 to the third quarter of 2017. Read more.  

Investment and profitability: Investment levelled out in constant terms from mid-2016, and remained under 20% of the GDP. Mining and construction profits dropped sharply in the second quarter of 2017, the latest available data, while the returns in manufacturing remained fairly stable. Read more.

Foreign direct investment projects: The TIPS Foreign Direct Investment Monitor tracks FDI projects, analysing new and updated projects on a quarterly basis. Read more.  

Briefing note: Slowdown in the construction industry: The construction industry saw a sharp slowdown in the past year, after being a key driver of growth in the South African economy for most of the last 15 years. The main factor behind its slowing expansion appears to be the flattening out of investment in buildings and construction works as part of the overall downturn in investment over the past two years. Read the briefing note online: Slowdown in the construction industry.

Briefing note: The unbalanced economy - A cause for concern: Since the first quarter of 2015, the South African economy has experienced its worst period of growth since the transition to democracy (aside from the global financial crisis in 2009). The economy has been dipping in and out of negative growth on a fairly consistent basis over the past three years. Read the briefing note online: The unbalanced economy - A cause for concern.

Briefing note: The transition to a green economy - A manufacturing and trade opportunity for South Africa: South Africa’s green economy strategy has traditionally rested on the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme, and has attempted to leverage off government procurement to promote the development of local manufacturing capacity for the likes of solar panels or wind towers. But with the programme in a state of paralysis, now is an opportune moment to reassess the opportunities available to South Africa, and expand the strategy to best position the country to take advantage of the industrial opportunities offered by the global transition to sustainable development. Read the briefing note online: The transition to a green economy - A manufacturing and trade opportunity for South Africa.