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IMF lowers SA’s 2013 growth outlook, forecasts ‘gradual’ global upturn

23rd January 2013

By: Terence Creamer
Creamer Media Editor

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has lowered its 2013 growth forecast for South Africa to 2.8% in its January World Economic Outlook (WEO) Update, having projected growth of 3% in October.

The institution calculates that Africa’s largest economy grew by only 2.3% in 2012, as opposed to the 2.6% level it had previously expected.

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In October, South Africa’s Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan also lowered government’s own growth estimates for 2012 to 2.5%, from the 2.7% figure forecast in the February Budget. He projected that the economy would growth by 3% in 2013 and by 3.8% in 2014. A number of private-sector economists have also forecast that South Africa will grow in the 3% range during 2013.

In its latest WEO, the IMF made a modest 0.3% upward revision to its 2014 growth projection for South Africa, which it is now expecting to come in at 4.1%.

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The IMF expects global growth to reach 3.5% in 2013, up from 3.2% in 2012, with emerging markets, developing countries and the US predicted to emerge as the main sources of growth for the year.

“Global growth is projected to increase during 2013, as the factors underlying soft global activity are expected to subside,” the IMF said in a statement. But the upturn is likely to be more gradual than what had been projected in the October 2012 WEO, when the 2013 outlook was estimated at 3.6%.

The rest of sub-Saharan Africa remained a growth hot spot, with the IMF maintaining its 5.8% growth forecast for the region for 2013. The WEO calculates that the territory expanded by 4.8% in 2012, which was slightly below its October estimate of 5%.

“Activity in sub-Saharan Africa is expected to remain robust, with a rebound from flood-related output disruptions in Nigeria contributing to an acceleration in overall growth in the region in 2013,” the WEO states.

Overall, it expects growth in emerging-market and developing economies to build to 5.5% in 2013, but says that continued weakness in advanced economies will weigh on external demand.

These weaknesses will also negatively affect the terms of trade for commodity exporters, with the WEO assuming lower commodity prices for 2013 as a whole.

The IMF warns that the euro area continues to pose a large downside risk to the global outlook. It has lowered its near-term outlook for the euro area and is expecting economic activity to contract by 0.2% in 2013, instead of expanding by 0.2%.

“This reflects delays in the transmission of lower sovereign spreads and improved bank liquidity to private sector borrowing conditions, and still-high uncertainty about the ultimate resolution of the crisis despite recent progress.”

Growth in the US is forecast to average 2% in 2013, while the IMF has sustained its expectations that Japan will growth by 1.2% in 2013, despite renewed recessionary conditions.

The Chinese economy is expected to expand by 8.2% in 2013, having grown by 7.8% in 2012.

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