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Mir ist bewusst, dass sich die Informationen auf dieser Website nicht an Personen richten bzw. für sie bestimmt sind, in deren Land die Verbreitung solcher anlagebezogenen Informationen nicht erlaubt ist. Mir ist ebenfalls bewusst, dass sich die Informationen auf dieser Website nicht an Adressaten richtet, die von der Aufsichtsbehörde in dem Land, von dem aus die Website besucht wird, möglicherweise als „Privatanleger“ klassifiziert werden. Des Weiteren ist mir bewusst, dass die hier zu findenden Informationen oder Meinungen nicht als Aufforderung zum Kauf oder Verkauf eines Anlageprodukts zu verstehen sind. Es sollen auch keine solchen Anlageprodukte oder Dienstleistungen Personen angeboten oder verkauft werden, in deren Land ein entsprechendes Angebot, eine Aufforderung, ein Erwerb oder Verkauf ungesetzlich wäre. Fidelity äußert auf dieser Website seine eigenen Ansichten und Meinungen, die sich jederzeit ändern können, ohne dass eine Verpflichtung zur Aktualisierung besteht. Kein Inhalt dieser Website ist als Beratung in Bezug auf Geldanlagen, Steuern, rechtliche oder sonstige Aspekte zu verstehen. Die hierin enthaltenen Informationen können sich ohne entsprechende Mitteilung jederzeit ändern.

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Confermo di voler accedere a questo sito web per acquisire informazioni in veste o per conto di un Investitore istituzionale (una società o altro investitore non retail che agisce per proprio conto).

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South African land expropriation will exacerbate economic woes and increase volatility

The decision by South Africa’s ruling ANC party to push ahead with legislation allowing land expropriation without fair compensation will probably exacerbate the country’s economic woes and increase volatility in asset prices.

by Jan Berthold

07 September 2018, 13:32 GMT

The gallery's view of a public hearing on South African land expropriation in Pietermaritzburg, SA. Photo: Reuters / Rogan Ward
The gallery's view of a public hearing on South African land expropriation in Pietermaritzburg, SA. Photo: Reuters / Rogan Ward

South Africa’s recent slide into recession comes at a tumultuous period for emerging markets (EM) and the business-unfriendly land reform initiative will only add to the overall souring of EM sentiment, potentially triggering a further sell-off in the country’s assets.

Popular move

A large part of the population perceives the country’s current distribution of land as among the root causes for the country’s slow economic development and socio-political challenges. While there is academic evidence against such views, the upcoming general elections will probably force the ANC to meet popular demands.

Historical land injustices are increasingly blamed for South Africa’s current economic and socio-political challenges. While apartheid-era ‘white rule’ officially ended in 1994, the bulk of farm and agricultural land remains in ownership by the country’s small while minority. Moreover, government promises of a gradual redistribution of some historically dispossessed agricultural land have largely not been met.

In the context of economic growth markedly undershooting EM peers’, high and still growing unemployment, and wealth inequalities that are among the worst in the world, large parts of South Africa’s population are increasingly perceiving a more radical reallocation of land without fair compensation as a route to overcome some of the country’s structural challenges.

Source: Statistics South Africa, Bloomberg, 2018 IMF Forecast, Fidelity International, September 2018

Red herring

Interestingly, there is strong academic evidence that the current allocation of land is not the main impediment for the country’s economic underperformance. Both domestic and international economic surveys highlight that South Africa’s underwhelming economic development is driven by other issues, including inefficient government bureaucracy, restrictive labour markets, poor educational outcomes, policy uncertainty, and corruption.

These factors are also among the key drivers for South Africa’s deteriorating rank on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index, where the country has slipped dozens of places relative to African peers in recent years.

Country rank. Source: World Bank, Fidelity International, September 2018

While the bulk of South Africa’s top political leadership understands that radical land reform may be a red herring, upcoming general elections will probably force the government to still engage with the issue to some extent.

South Africa’s president himself appears to understand that radical land expropriation may further damage the country’s already poor and deteriorating business environment. However, some populist politicians both within and outside the ANC party administration are vocally demanding for radical land reform to remain on the government’s core agenda.

And given that the topic is becoming increasingly popular with the electorate and general elections are due in 2019, the government may well be forced to advance some legislative proposals on the matter. However, more radical forms of expropriation without compensation will probably remain off the agenda.

Increased volatility

Nonetheless, the land reform story could hardly come at a more unfavourable time, given the broad-based weakness in emerging markets at present. South Africa does not just face anaemic growth, but also significant fiscal and current account deficits. A further withdrawal of support by either portfolio or real-sector investors would compound the country’s economic challenges.

Net foreign direct investment flows are already negative and both the South African rand and government bond prices have fallen in response to land reform headlines in recent weeks. Further volatility seems likely as the legislative initiative progresses, especially in the context of a more generic weakening of investor appetite for EM risk assets as US interest rates rise and trade tensions grow.

Financial markets are becoming increasingly selective on where to allocate funds, and South Africa’s business-unfriendly land reform initiative could certainly remove the country’s assets from some investors’ radars.

Source: Bloomberg, Fidelity International, September 2018

The value of investments and the income from them can go down as well as up so you may get back less than you invest. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results.

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This material was created by Fidelity International. It must not be reproduced or circulated to any other party without prior permission of Fidelity.

This communication is not directed at, and must not be acted on by persons inside the United States and is otherwise only directed at persons residing in jurisdictions where the relevant funds are authorised for distribution or where no such authorisation is required. Fidelity is not authorised to manage or distribute investment funds or products in, or to provide investment management or advisory services to persons resident in, mainland China. All persons and entities accessing the information do so on their own initiative and are responsible for compliance with applicable local laws and regulations and should consult their professional advisers.

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Issued in Europe: Issued by FIL Investments International (FCA registered number 122170) a firm authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, FIL (Luxembourg) S.A., authorised and supervised by the CSSF (Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier) and FIL Investment Switzerland AG, authorised and supervised by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority FINMA. For German wholesale clients issued by FIL Investment Services GmbH, Kastanienhöhe 1, 61476 Kronberg im Taunus. For German institutional clients issued by FIL Investments International – Niederlassung Frankfurt.

In Hong Kong, this content is issued by FIL Investment Management (Hong Kong) Limited and it has not been reviewed by the Securities and Future Commission. FIL Investment Management (Singapore) Limited (Co. Reg. No: 199006300E) is the legal representative of Fidelity International in Singapore. FIL Asset Managemerajint (Korea) Limited is the legal representative of Fidelity International in Korea. In Taiwan, independently operated by FIL Securities (Taiwan ) Limited, 11F, 68 Zhongxiao East Road, Section 5, Xinyi Dist., Taipei City, Taiwan 11065, R.O.C. Customer Service Number: 0800-00-9911#2.

Issued in Australia by Fidelity Responsible Entity (Australia) Limited ABN 33 148 059 009, AFSL No. 409340 (“Fidelity Australia”). This material has not been prepared specifically for Australian investors and may contain information which is not prepared in accordance with Australian law.

IC18-194