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Mining and manufacturing, which make up 20% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), are once again in the spotlight with the latest data from Statistics South Africa (StatsSA). Mining output fell 0.9% year-on-year in September while manufacturing dipped 1.6% for the same period. However, both are in the positive for the three months to September, and production figures indicate that that both will make positive contributions to economic growth in the third quarter.

Manufacturing sector improvementsStatsSA indicates a 1% rise in seasonally adjusted manufacturing production in the third quarter of 2017, when compared to the second, with six of the 10 manufacturing divisions reporting positive growth rates over this period. Similarly, the September purchasing managers index (PMI) suggested a slight improvement. However, it remains below the neutral 50 mark, which indicates expansion versus contraction.

Seasonally adjusted manufacturing production decreased by 0.8% in September compared with August. This followed month-on-month changes of 1.4% in July and 0.3% in August. The largest drops in the September manufacturing figures came from wood products, paper, publishing and printing (7% and contributing 0.9 of a percentage point); petroleum, chemical products, rubber and plastic products (2.5% and contributing 0.6 of a percentage point); and motor vehicles, parts and accessories and other transport equipment (4% and contributing 0.3 of a percentage point).

The Western Cape is hoping to impact on these figures in the future, with a push to grow the sector in the province. Manufacturing is the second biggest sector in the Western Cape and contributes about 15% to the country’s output.

The upcoming Manufacturing Indaba Western Cape will be hosting a focused discussion around growing the export market for Western Cape manufacturers into Africa. A number of high-growth opportunity sectors have been identified for investment, including manufacturing of components for renewable energy and the green economy; oil and gas components; medical devices; aerospace; and niche manufacturing.

Responding to the latest data from StatsSA, Nedbank analysts said that the latest set of production figures suggests that the economic recovery, which started off a low base in the second quarter, continued into the third quarter. However, the underlying pace was too slow and patchy to translate into any meaningful demand pressure on prices.

Image credit: Copyright: albertkarimov / 123RF Stock Photo

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