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Kganyago: Impact of coronavirus on SA economy hard to predict

The virus, which emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan last year, has so far infected more than 73,000 people in China and 25 other countries and caused nearly 2,000 fatalities so far.

FILE: South African Reserve Bank governor Lesetja Kganyago. Picture: GovermentZA.

CAPE TOWN – The South African Reserve Bank governor Lesetja Kganyago on Tuesday said it was too early to say what the impact of the coronavirus epidemic would be on South Africa’s economy.

But he’s told Parliament it would cause a slowdown in China, with implications for the countries that trade with the world’s second-largest economy.

Bank officials briefed a joint meeting of Parliament’s finance committees on the economy’s performance and outlook on Tuesday.

The virus, which emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan last year, has so far infected more than 73,000 people in China and 25 other countries and caused nearly 2,000 fatalities so far.

But it was difficult to answer the question of what it would mean for South Africa’s struggling economy, said Kganyago.

“We are coming here at a very difficult time in the global economy. We are having this coronavirus and as the economics profession, we do not yet have a comprehension of the extent to which it will damage economic activity.

“There are varied estimates, but without a doubt, there is going to be a significant slowdown in China and with that slowdown in China it is going to affect many of the countries that are trading with China, both developed and developing.”

While the economy is in trouble, inflation has remained on track inside the 3% to 6% target range for the longest period ever, allowing space for interest-rate cuts, MPs were told.