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South Africa Economy

    Economy—overview: South Africa is a middle-income, developing country with an abundant supply of resources, well-developed financial, legal, communications, energy, and transport sectors, a stock exchange that ranks among the 10 largest in the world, and a modern infrastructure supporting an efficient distribution of goods to major urban centers throughout the region. However, growth has not been strong enough to cut into the 30% unemployment, and daunting economic problems remain from the apartheid era, especially the problems of poverty and lack of economic empowerment among the disadvantaged groups. Other problems are crime and corruption. The new government demonstrated its commitment to open markets, privatization, and a favorable investment climate with the release of its macroeconomic strategy in June 1996. Called "Growth, Employment and Redistribution," this policy framework includes the introduction of tax incentives to stimulate new investment in labor-intensive projects, expansion of basic infrastructure services, the restructuring and partial privatization of state assets, continued reduction of tariffs, subsidies to promote economic efficiency, improved services to the disadvantaged, and integration into the global economy. Serious structural rigidities remain, including a complicated and relatively protectionist trade regime, and concentration of wealth and economic control.

    GDP: purchasing power parity—$290.6 billion (1998 est.)

    GDP—real growth rate: 0.3% (1998 est.)

    GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$6,800 (1998 est.)

    GDP—composition by sector:
    agriculture: 5%
    industry: 39%
    services: 56% (1996 est.)

    Population below poverty line: NA%

    Household income or consumption by percentage share:
    lowest 10%: 1.4%
    highest 10%: 47.3% (1993)

    Inflation rate (consumer prices): 9% (1998 est.)

    Labor force: 15 million economically active (1997)

    Labor force—by occupation: services 35%, agriculture 30%, industry 20%, mining 9%, other 6%

    Unemployment rate: 30% (1998 est.)

    Budget:
    revenues: $30.5 billion
    expenditures: $38 billion, including capital expenditures of $2.6 billion (FY94/95 est.)

    Industries: mining (world's largest producer of platinum, gold, chromium), automobile assembly, metalworking, machinery, textile, iron and steel, chemical, fertilizer, foodstuffs

    Industrial production growth rate: -1% (1998 est.)

    Electricity—production: 186.949 billion kWh (1996)

    Electricity—production by source:
    fossil fuel: 93%
    hydro: 0.7%
    nuclear: 6.3%
    other: NA% (1996)

    Electricity—consumption: 181.404 billion kWh (1996)

    Electricity—exports: 5.575 billion kWh (1996)

    Electricity—imports: 30 million kWh (1996)

    Agriculture—products: corn, wheat, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables; beef, poultry, mutton, wool, dairy products

    Exports: $28.7 billion (f.o.b., 1998)

    Exports—commodities: gold 20%, other minerals and metals 20%-25%, food 5%, chemicals 3% (1997)

    Exports—partners: UK, Italy, Japan, US, Germany (1997)

    Imports: $27.2 billion (f.o.b., 1998)

    Imports—commodities: machinery, transport equipment, chemicals, petroleum products, textiles, scientific instruments (1997)

    Imports—partners: Germany, US, UK, Japan (1997)

    Debt—external: $23.5 billion (1997 est.)

    Economic aid—recipient: $676.3 million

    Currency: 1 rand (R) = 100 cents

    Exchange rates: rand (R) per US$1—5.98380 (January 1999), 5.52828 (1998), 4.60796 (1997), 4.29935 (1996), 3.62709 (1995), 3.55080 (1994)

    Fiscal year: 1 April—31 March

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