JOHANNESBURG - South Africa’s economy contracted 2.2% in the first quarter- the biggest contraction since the third quarter of 2009.

Statistics South Africa said Agriculture, mining and manufacturing were the main contributors to the slowdown, with the electricity, construction and trade industries also recording negative growth.

The Agricultural sector which led the charge in last year’s last quarter growth of 3.1 percent saw its biggest contraction since 2006, shrinking 24.2%.  Stats SA said after recording four consecutive quarters of robust growth in 2017, the agriculture industry lost ground in the first quarter of 2018,  “Agriculture’s relatively strong performance in 2017 is one of the positive factors that helped keep the economy afloat in 2017,” Stats SA said.

“This momentum failed to carry through to 2018, with decreased production in field crops and horticultural products contributing to the decline in the first quarter”.  

Mining entered into recession with its second consecutive quarter of economic decline. Output in the mining sector shrank 9,9% in the first quarter of 2018, following on from a decrease of 4,4% in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Manufacturing production also failed to make a positive contribution to economic growth, falling by 6,4% in the quarter.

- BUSINESS REPORT