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'Govt, businesses must work together to build investor confidence'

Moody’s reaffirmed the country's credit rating two notches above sub-investment level.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan says while credit ratings agency Moody's did not further downgrade the country, both government and businesses must work together to build investor confidence in order to ensure that South Africa's economy is more competitive.

Moody's reaffirmed the country's credit rating two notches above sub-investment level with the outlook at negative.

Two other rating agencies now have to make their decision known in the next few weeks.

Gordhan says while there are good things that are happening in the country, there are warning signs as well.

"We have to work harder at ensuring, as the report says, medium-term growth. We need to continue to give attention to debt and the deficit but that becomes easier if you grow the economy."

LISTEN: Economist: Moody's rating on SA nothing to celebrate

In the latest sign of an economy under stress, the Stats SA agency said unemployment rose to 26.7 percent of the labour force in the first quarter of this year - the highest since it started a survey of households in 2008.

"We need to find new and innovative ways to search for new engines of growth, to find new ways of igniting growth and creating the jobs that our people desperately require," Gordhan said.

The government has publicly cheered the Moody's decision, and Cabinet minister Jeff Radebe said on Monday he was confident South Africa would retain its investment grade status with Fitch and S&P.

Gordhan was however more cautious.

"We can't be positive. All we can do is work as hard as we can to convince people out there that we are a country that is capable of solving its problems," he said.

Additional reporting by Reuters.

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