South Africa’s Trade Deficit Widens in April as Exports Drop

South Africa’s trade deficit widened to 2.5 billion rand ($206 million) in April as exports declined more than imports in the month.

The trade deficit compared with a revised 9 million rand shortfall in March, the Pretoria-based Revenue Service said in a statement on its website Friday. The median estimate of 16 economists surveyed by Bloomberg was for a deficit of 4.9 billion rand.

A widening trade deficit has added to pressure on the current account, the broadest measure of trade in goods and services, and the rand. The current-account gap averaged 5.4 percent of gross domestic product in 2014 and will narrow to 4.5 percent this year, according to the National Treasury.

Exports declined 7.5 percent as machinery shipments decreased, while imports fell 4.8 percent in April compared with the previous month, led by vehicle and transportation equipment, the Revenue Service said.

Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., the state-owned utility that supplies about 95 percent of the nation’s power, is rationing electricity supply because its aging plants can’t meet demand. The shortage has “very severe” implications for growth prospects in Africa’s most-industrialized economy, according to the World Bank.

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

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