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Tuesday, 12 October 2021 17:16

IMF revises South Africa's growth outlook up to 5%.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has published its latest growth outlook for the world’s major markets, with the group forecasting that the global economic recovery is set to continue, despite the resurgence of Covid-19 in parts of the world.

Fueled by the highly transmissible Delta variant, the recorded global Covid-19 death toll has risen close to five million, and health risks abound, holding back a total return to normalcy, the IMF said in a report on Tuesday (12 October).

"Pandemic outbreaks in critical links of global supply chains have resulted in longer-than-expected supply disruptions, further feeding inflation in many countries. Overall, risks to economic prospects have increased, and policy trade-offs have become more complex.

"Compared to our July forecast, the global growth projection for 2021 has been revised down marginally to 5.9% and is unchanged for 2022 at 4.9%."

This modest headline revision, however, masks significant downgrades for some countries, the group warned.

The outlook for the low-income developing country group has darkened considerably due to worsening pandemic dynamics, it said. The downgrade also reflects more difficult near-term prospects for the advanced economy group, in part due to supply disruptions.

In a positive change, the IMF forecasts that South Africa’s economy is set to rebound despite global challenges, and it has upwardly revised South Africa’s growth outlook from 4% to 5% for 2021.

However, the group has indicated that this growth will not be sustained, with growth expected to slow to a negligible 2% in 2022.

IMF explained this annual discrepancy as a broader trend seen across emerging and developed markets.

"Aggregate output for the advanced economy group is expected to regain its pre-pandemic trend path in 2022 and exceed it by 0.9% in 2024.

"By contrast, aggregate output for the emerging market and developing economy group (excluding China) is expected to remain 5.5% below the pre-pandemic forecast in 2024, resulting in a larger setback to improvements in their living standards.

The IMF said these economic divergences are a consequence of large disparities in vaccine access and policy support.

"While almost 60% of the population in advanced economies are fully vaccinated, and some are now receiving booster shots, about 96% of the population in low-income countries remain unvaccinated.

"Emerging and developing economies, faced with tighter financing conditions and a greater risk of de-anchoring inflation expectations, are withdrawing policy support more quickly despite larger shortfalls in output."

If not for the civil unrest in Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal in July, the South African economy could have recouped most of last year’s pandemic-induced GDP losses by the end of 2021, the South African Reserve bank said in a research note last week.

The central bank expects the economy to contract 1.2% in the third quarter and for growth to average 5.3% in 2021 – a sharp recovery from last year when output fell the most in almost three decades.