SA's second quarter GDP plunges as coronavirus takes its toll

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Statistics South Africa announced on Tuesday morning that the South Africa's economy had contracted by an annualised rate of 51% in the second quarter of 2020.  

When not annualised, the drop was 16.4% quarter-on-quarter. 

According to Stats SA, the plunge was due to the "impact of the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions since the end of March 2020". 

This extends South Africa's recession for yet another quarter, as the economy continues to battle the Covid-19 pandemic and growing unemployment. The second quarter of the year includes the months April, May and June, when the country's strictest lockdown measures were in place. 

2020 gdp

Table from Stats SA 

South Africa entered its second recession of President Cyril Ramaphosa's administration in the second half of 2019. The data released by Stats SA on Tuesday means that GDP has now fallen for four successive quarters. 

Investment strategist at Old Mutual Multi-Managers, Izak Odendaal, said after the data was released on Tuesday that while the quarterly GDP figures were roundly bleak, the year on year figure was not as quite as stark. 

"It's a historically bad contraction, as Stats SA pointed out. It is somewhat worse than other countries have seen, but we have seen contractions of 40% plus in other countries. Bear in mind that this is annualised," said Odendaal.

Odendaal said the fact that agriculture was the only positive contributor in the quarterly figures was an indication that once the economy starts to recover, the upswing will likely be driven by the country's primary and secondary sectors.

"This is encouraging, and the crop estimates for this year are expected to be good. This recovery looks like it will be driven by primary and secondary sectors, while pressure on consumers continues," Odendaal said.

Following the release of the first quarter GDP figures in July, which showed South Africa's economy contracted 2%, Treasury said it expected SA's GDP to contract by a record 7.2% for the year. 

Ahead of the release of the latest GDP data on Tuesday, meanwhile, the economic consensus was for an annualised contraction of over 40%, with only a few economists warning of a plunge of up to 50%.

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