September 6, 2017 / 10:24 AM / 2 months ago

UPDATE 1-South Africa's business confidence at lowest in over 30 years

* Business confidence index falls to 89.6

* Corruption scandals dampen confidence

* Low growth piles pressure on Zuma (Adds quote, background)

JOHANNESBURG, Sept 6 (Reuters) - South Africa’s business confidence index fell to its lowest in more than three decades in August as merchandise import and export volumes fell, a survey showed on Wednesday.

The business group said South Africa’s economic performance was sub-optimal despite an positive global outlook, and improved business confidence was needed to revitalise domestic growth.

The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (SACCI) monthly business confidence index (BCI) fell to 89.6 in August, the lowest level since mid-1980s, from 95.3 in July.

“Lower merchandise import and export volumes mainly caused the sharp monthly decline of the BCI in August 2017. Lower consumer inflation and new vehicle sales made only moderate positive monthly contributions,” SACCI said in a statement.

Africa’s most industrialised economy emerged from recession in June, helped by recovery in agriculture after a drought last year, but political scandals and policy uncertainty still dampen investor confidence.

Since South Africa emerged from the 2009 recession, growth has fallen short of the government’s target of 5 percent, the level economists say is needed to curb unemployment.

The country is beset by low growth the fallout from credit downgrades, corruption scandals and in-fighting in the ruling African National Congress party which is due to hold elections in December to replace President Jacob Zuma as its leader. Zuma tenure as South Africa’s president ends in 2019. (Reporting by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo; Editing by James Macharia)

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