South Africa Posts Sixth Straight Monthly Trade Deficit in June

South Africa posted its sixth consecutive monthly trade deficit in June as exports of mineral products, which includes coal and iron ore, declined, the South African Revenue Service said.

The shortfall narrowed to 5.7 billion rand ($696 million) from 8.9 billion rand in May, the Pretoria-based agency said today in an e-mailed statement. The median estimate of seven economists in a Bloomberg survey was a deficit of 5 billion rand.

A debt crisis in Europe, which buys a third of South Africa’s manufactured exports, has curbed demand, boosting the trade gap for the first half of the year to 51.1 billion rand from 2.5 billion rand a year earlier. That’s widened the deficit on the current account, the broadest measure of trade of goods and services, undermining the rand.

Exports fell 1.7 percent to 61.7 billion rand in June from the previous month as shipments of mineral products slumped 13 percent, the revenue service said. Imports declined 6 percent to 67.4 billion rand as purchases of oil fell 11 percent, it said.

South Africa posted a current-account deficit of 4.9 percent of gross domestic product in the first quarter, the biggest in three years, the central bank said on June 21. Africa’s biggest economy relies on foreign investment in stocks and bonds to finance the current-account deficit, inflows that have fluctuated this year as slower economic growth led investors to sell riskier, emerging-market assets.

The monthly trade figures are often volatile, reflecting the timing of shipments of commodities such as oil and diamonds.

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