Friday, September 28, 2018

South Africa's Trade Balance Swings to Surplus in August
By Ntando Thukwana
September 28, 2018, 8:14 AM EDT

 Vehicle exports surge 32%, mineral-product imports drop 37%
 Surplus is 8.8 billion rand from July’s 5.3 billion-rand gap

South Africa’s trade account unexpectedly swung to a surplus in August as exports of vehicles advanced and imports of mineral products declined.

The 8.8 billion-rand ($620 million) positive balance compares with July’s revised 5.3 billion-rand deficit, Pretoria-based South African Revenue Service said in an emailed statement Friday. The median estimate of seven economists in a Bloomberg survey was for a 1.8 billion-rand shortfall. The surplus was 6.8 billion rand a year earlier.

A smaller trade deficit eases pressure on the currency of Africa’s most industrialized economy and on its current account, the broadest gauge of traded goods and services. The rand has weakened more than 12 percent this year, battering investor confidence and raising the cost of imports. The currency has lost all gains that came as President Cyril Ramaphosa rose to power after being elected as leader of the ruling African National Congress in December and subsequently the country.

Here are some highlights from the statement:

Exports increased 12 percent from a year earlier to 117 billion rand
Imports climbed 11 percent to 108 billion rand
Exports of vehicles and transport equipment surged 32 percent from a month earlier, while mineral-product imports, which include oil, declined 37 percent
The trade surplus for the year to date is 2.7 billion rand compared with a positive balance of 39.9 billion rand a year earlier.

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