Recession deepens in first quarter

South Africa’s recession deepened in the first quarter of 2020, with official data on Tuesday showing that gross domestic product contracted 2% from the previous three months, led by declines in mining and manufacturing.

It was the third consecutive quarter of contraction and followed a 1.4% decline in GDP in October-December.

Statistics South Africa said mining contracted by 21.5% in January-March, while manufacturing was down 8.5%.

Compared to the same period a year ago, GDP shrank 0.1% in the first quarter after a 0.5% decline in Q4 2019.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has severely curtailed economic activity in South Africa as elsewhere, means the outlook remains gloomy. The Treasury sees GDP contracting by 7.2% this year.

A strict nationwide lockdown from late March has been partially eased to allow key sectors like mining and retail to resume operations.