South Africa Posts Its Biggest Trade Deficit in Six Months as Exports Drop
South Africa posted a 3.9 billion- rand ($555-million) trade deficit in July, the biggest in six months, as metal exports declined and fuel imports rose.
The deficit compared with a surplus of 4.9 billion rand in June, the Pretoria-based South African Revenue Service said in an e-mailed statement today. The median estimate of eight economists surveyed by Bloomberg was for a 100 million-rand surplus.
The turnaround in the trade balance “was mainly due to lower precious metal exports and increased imports of crude oil, vehicles, aircraft, machinery and electrical appliances,” the revenue services said. “The cumulative trade deficit for the year to date is 6.4 billion rand.”
Exports fell 6.7 percent percent to 56.5 billion rand in July from the previous month as shipments of precious and semi- precious stones and metals declined by 2.3 billion rand, or 14 percent, the revenue service said. Exports of chemical products dropped 809 million rand, or 23 percent.
Imports rose 8.5 percent to 60.4 billion rand in the period, with purchases of vehicles, aircraft and vessels jumping 1.88 billion rand, or 36 percent, and imports of machinery and electrical appliances increasing 1.29 billion rand, or 10 percent, it said.
Four of the eight economists surveyed expected a trade surplus after the price of gold climbed 7.9 percent last month and the platinum price gained 3.8 percent. Those metals account for about a fifth of South African exports, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Trade figures are often volatile, reflecting the timing of shipments of commodities such as oil and diamonds.
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