Filomena Scalise

Johannesburg - South Africa swung into a wide trade deficit of 17.06 billion rand in January, about double what economists expected, after a 2.78 billion rand surplus in December, data from the South African Revenue Service showed on Friday.

The data incorporates previously excluded trade with South Africa's regional neighbours Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland.

Exports in January ticked up 0.1 percent to 77.67 billion rand, but were far outstripped by imports which jumped 26.3 percent to 94.73 billion rand.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast a trade shortfall of 8.5 billion rand for January, but the data has traditionally been volatile and hard to predict. - Reuters