PRETORIA, South Africa's gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 2.0 per cent in the third quarter of 2017 compared with the preceding three months and by 0.8 per cent year-on-year, says Statistician General Risenga Maluleke.

Addressing his first media briefing on GDP growth since since taking over from his predecessor, Pali Lehohla, on Nov 1, he said here Tuesday that growth for the first nine months pf this year ame in at 1.0 per cent compared with the same period last year.

"Looking at growth rates from quarter four of 2016 there was some negative growth in two quarters, including quarter one of 2017 but there was a [revised] 2.8 per cent growth in quarter two of 2017," he said.

Second quarter GDP growth, which pulled the South African economy out of a technical recession, was revised from 2.5 per cent to 2.8 per cent after the incorporation of revised data sources.

In the third quarter, the primary sector leveraged the highest growth at 14.9 per cent, while the secondary sector had growth of 2.1 per cent, followed by the tertiary sector with 0.3 per cent.

The agriculture, forestry and fishing industry was the largest contributor to growth in GDP at 44.2 per cent and contributing 0.9 per cent to GDP. The increase in agriculture was driven by increased production of field crops and horticultural products.

Mining and quarrying increased by 6.6 per cent and contributed 0.5 per cent to GDP growth, while manufacturing expanded by 4.3 per cent, contributing 0.5 per cent to GDP growth. Growth in mining was mostly due to increased production for gold and platinum group metals.

However, there was negative growth in trade, catering and accommodation and general government services. Negative growth in trade was due to weaknesses in wholesale trade sales, despite a rebound in retail trade sales while negative growth in general government services was partly attributed to declining employment numbers.

The biggest [contributor of] negative growth was electricity at a negative 5.5 per cent, said Maluleke. Electricity generated and consumed as well as water distribution declined.

Nominal GDP values in the third quarter came in at an estimated 1,168 billion Rand (about 86.8 billion US dollars) in the third quarter. Manufacturing was up by 9.0 billion Rand to 140 billion Rand, while mining was up by 7.0 billion Rand to 83 billion Rand and electricity was down by 6.0 billion to 39 billion Rand.

On the expenditure side of GDP, expenditure on real gross GDP grew by 2.1 per cent, while final consumption expenditure by households increased by 2.6 per cent in the third quarter contributing 1.6 per cent to total growth. Government final consumption expenditure (GFCE) decreased by 0.5 per cent in the third quarter.

The export of goods and services decreased by 10.3 per cent and imports decreased by 13.7 per cent. Exports of mineral products, base metals and precious metals were down, while exports of agricultural products were up in the third quarter.

Imports of mineral products, machinery and equipment, and vehicles and transport equipment contributed to the decline in imports in the third quarter.

The Deputy Director-General responsible for Economic Statistics, Joe De Beer, said Statistics South Africa had seen a range of numbers from analysts when coming to GDP growth.

We've seen quite a range of numbers from analysts. I don't think a growth of 2% is that much different from the consensus of analysts If you take a broader view, this number is quite aligned to what expectations are at the moment in the markets, said De Beer.