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Even in Times of Growth, South Africa is Cautious

South Africa’s economy has exceeded expectations in the first fiscal quarter of 2012, experiencing a total growth of 2.7 percent. This follows 3.2 percent growth in the final quarter of 2011, according to numbers released by Statistics South Africa on Tuesday.

Predictions by a dozen of the country’s economists projected the economy’s growth at between 1.8 and 3.9 percent prior to the release of the data. Even with the perceived success, Carmen Nel, a senior economist at Rand Merchant Bank preached caution in an interview with Business Day.

“These figures justify a cautious stance from policymakers with regards to growth this year, given the very uncertain global economic backdrop,” she said, referring to the international financial crises seen in European banks and elsewhere.

A majority of the growth belonged to the country’s manufacturing industry, which grew by 7.7 percent and accounted for 1.2 percent of the economy’s overall growth. Real estate and business services accounted for another one percent, leaving the rest of South Africa’s industries to comprise the final 0.5 percent.

Though the numbers generally exceeded expectations, Statistics South Africa also reported a large drop in the mining industry, with a negative growth of almost 17 percent. Economists are still skeptical of the long-term sustainability of growth, as 2012 still represented a small drop in momentum when compared the end of 2011.

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