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South Africa’s June Trade Gap Narrows to 7.7 Billion Rand

July 31 (Bloomberg) -- South Africa’s trade gap narrowed for a second month in June as commodity exports rebounded and imports of vehicles and equipment components slumped.

The deficit eased to 7.7 billion rand ($781 million) from 11 billion rand in May, the Pretoria-based South African Revenue Service said in an e-mailed statement today. The median estimate of 10 economists in a Bloomberg survey was for an 8.9 billion-rand shortfall.

South Africa posted a trade gap of 75.9 billion rand in the first half of the year compared with 51.6 billion rand a year earlier, adding to pressure on the current-account deficit, the broadest measure of trade in goods and services, and the rand.

The currency of Africa’s largest economy has slumped 14 percent against the dollar this year, the most of 16 major currencies monitored by Bloomberg, as the trade deficit worsened and strikes in the mining industry undermined the growth outlook.

The current account gap unexpectedly narrowed to 5.8 percent of gross domestic product in the first quarter from 6.5 percent in the previous three months. The government is forecasting the deficit will average 6.2 percent this year.

Imports fell 2 percent in June to 75.9 billion rand, led by an 11 percent drop in vehicles, aircraft and vessel purchases, an 8 percent slump in equipment components and a 13 percent decline in plastic and rubber products.

Exports climbed 3.4 percent to 68.2 billion rand, with shipments of precious and semi-precious stones rising 13 percent and exports of mineral products, which includes coal and iron ore, gaining 8 percent. Exports of chemical products slumped 8 percent.

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

To contact the reporter on this story: Mike Cohen in Cape Town at mcohen21@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nasreen Seria at nseria@bloomberg.net

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