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JOHANNESBURG - South Africa’s trade surplus recorded its highest trade surplus since May of 2016 in December. 

The surplus was registered at R15.7 billion in December from an upwardly revised R13bn in the previous month and above market expectations of an R10bn surplus.  December also marked the eleventh consecutive monthly surplus- the longest winning streak in nearly 20 years.

Considering the January to December period, exports went up 7.9 percent and imports rose 0.7 percent, increasing the country's trade surplus to R80bn surplus from an R1.05bn in the same period of 2016.

Elize Kruger, an analyst at NKC Africa Economics, said last year’s strong trade performance has provided much-needed underlying support for the rand exchange rate, while also playing into an improved current account deficit. China was the strongest trading partner for South Africa in the period under review 18.9 percent of total imports and 11.6 percent of total exports

“With the global economy expected to continue its strong synchronised recovery in 2018, while commodity prices are trending higher, export growth should continue to perform well in 2018.”

“We forecast a current account deficit to GDP ratio of 2.3 percent for 2018 compared to an estimated deficit of 2.1 percent in 2017,” Kruger said.