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Economy, Finance and Trade: South Africa

March 2021

In 2020, South Africa’s economy witnessed a severe contraction amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The effects of the crisis are likely to have long-term implications, especially on labour markets. Additional risks also include rapidly-increasing public debt and unsustainable government finances. Under the baseline scenario, the economy is expected to show signs of recovery in 2021, yet the rebound is likely to be slow.

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The Country Briefings series examine market potential, economic and consumer trends impacting each country and how they are set to change.

Each Country Briefing covers one of these topics:

Economy, Finance and Trade: Understanding the structure, health and potential risks of an economy are important for decision-making within an existing operating environment as well as for expansion strategies. Real GDP growth, inflation and exchange rate fluctuations will directly impact consumer market potential. Import and export trade profiles help gauge how open an economy is to trade and investment, while analysis of government finances can be used to explore macroeconomic stability and susceptibility to economic shocks.

Income and Expenditure: Insights into income, wealth and expenditure of consumers are vital in helping businesses make strategic decisions with regards to which country (or even which region within a country) to enter, which consumer segment to target, which products or services to market, and at which price point. Other factors such as the size and expansion of the middle class and income inequality are also important in helping companies gauge the potential of a country market.

Households: Global shifts in gender, ageing, migration and housing are transforming the size, location,  general make-up as well as income and expenditure of households around the globe, with diverse implications for governments and companies. Households insights can help identify the decision-making processes and consumption tastes of different household groups and types within a country, and assess household appliance and digital readiness that is key for formulating market technology and internet strategies.

Business Dynamics: A stable and competitive business environment is vital to operate efficiently and attract inward investment. Businesses can assess these factors alongside challenges such as corruption, political instability and terrorism, also gain insight into business operating environment and make strategic investment decisions. Transport infrastructure, ICT readiness and labour force dynamics will also identify potential issues with a supply chain and the level of workforce skills.

Sustainability: Insights on key sectors directly related to the environmental sustainability of a country such as energy, water, pollution, environmental resilience, forest and biodiversity and food and agriculture help businesses to make strategic decisions in relation to environmental and sustainability trends, improve brand reputation and ensure long-term operations while ultimately growing the bottom line.

The briefings cover 103 countries and identify topics of crucial interest to planners, marketers and researchers.

Economy, Finance and Trade: South Africa



The COVID-19 pandemic heightens South Africa’s economic challenges
South Africa’s authorities adopt loose monetary policy to stimulate the impaired economy
South Africa’s exports decreased due to the crisis, yet medium-term moderation is anticipated
Uncertainty persists over South Africa’s investment flows
Rising interest payments to become the main challenge for South Africa’s public finances



Chart 1 Economic Landscape of South Africa: 2020 Chart 2 Real GDP Growth in South Africa: 2010-2040 Chart 3 GDP Size and Growth: 2015-2040 Chart 4 Gross Value Added by Sector in South Africa: 2020 Chart 5 Domestic Demand: 2015 and 2020 Chart 6 Standartised Business Confidence Index: 2010-2021 Chart 7 Standartised Consumer Confidence Index: 2010-2021 Chart 8 Productivity: 2015 and 2020 Chart 9 Productivity by Sector in South Africa: 2020


Chart 10 Monetary Landscape of South Africa: 2020 Chart 11 Inflation: 2010-2040 Chart 12 Average Inflation: 2010-2040 Chart 13 Interest Rates in South Africa: 2010-2021 Chart 14 Exchange Rates: 2010-2020 Chart 15 Money Supply Growth and Money Velocity in South Africa: 2015-2021


Chart 16 Foreign Trade Landscape of South Africa: 2020 Chart 17 Exports and Export Price Index in South Africa: 2014-2021 Chart 18 Exports by Commodity in South Africa: 2020 Chart 19 Top 10 Export Destinations: 2020 Chart 20 Imports and Import Price Index in South Africa: 2014-2021 Chart 21 Imports by Commodity in South Africa: 2020 Chart 22 Top 10 Import Origins: 2020


Chart 23 Investment Landscape of South Africa: 2020 Chart 24 FDI intensity: 2019 Chart 25 Foreign Direct Investment Inflows and Outflows in South Africa: 2014-2019 Chart 26 Gross Fixed Capital Formation in South Africa: 2010-2021


Chart 27 Government Budget Landscape of South Africa: 2020 Chart 28 Public Debt: 2020 Chart 29 Government Revenue: 2020 Chart 30 Government Expenditure: 2020 Chart 31 Government Expenditure by Economic Type in South Africa: 2020 Chart 32 Government Expenditure by Function in South Africa: 2020


Chart 33 Top 2 Biggest Global Risks vs. Baseline Scenario: South Africa

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