Sars said the year-to-date trade deficit of R8.82bn was a deterioration on the surplus for the comparable period in 2017 of R48.94bn. File Photo: IOL

CAPE TOWN – The South African Revenue Service (Sars) on Friday announced that South Africa’s trade deficit widened to R5.5 billion in October from R3.8bn in September. 

Investec economist Lara Hodes said in month-to-month terms the larger deficit position was driven by a 9.7 percent lift in imports ahead of the 8.5 percent rise in the export category. 

“An analysis of the underlying trade data, indicates that gains within the key export categories was broad based, with only the vegetable products segment reflecting a -30 percent month-on-month dip. Similarly, the import component of the trade balance logged gains across most sectors, with the outlier being mineral products which slid by 7 percent month on month,” said Hodes

Sars said the year-to-date trade deficit of R8.82bn was a deterioration on the surplus for the comparable period in 2017 of R48.94bn. 

Exports year-to-date increased by 6.6 percent while imports for the same period showed an increase of 13.3 percent.

Including trade data with Botswana, eSwatini, Lesotho and Namibia:

  • The R5.55bn trade deficit for October 2018 is attributable to exports of R122.32bn and imports of R127.87bn. Exports increased from September 2018 to October 2018 by R9.53bn (8.5 percent) and imports increased from September 2018 to October 2018 by R11.26bn (9.7 percent). 
  • Exports for the year-to-date (01 January to 31 October) increased by 6.6 percent from R963.99bn in 2017 to R1 027.94bn in 2018. Imports for the year-to-date of R1 036.76bn are 13.3 percent more than the imports recorded in January to October 2017 of R915.05bn, leaving a cumulative trade deficit of R8.82bn for 2018. 
  • On a year-on-year basis, the R5.55bn trade deficit for October 2018 is a deterioration from the surplus recorded in October 2017 of R4.18bn. Exports of R122.32bn are 17.8 percent more than the exports recorded in October 2017 of R103.83bn. Imports of R127.87bn are 28.3 percent more than the imports recorded in October 2017 of R99.65bn.
  • September 2018’s trade deficit was revised downwards by R0.87bn from the previous month’s preliminary deficit of R2.95bn to a revised deficit of R3.83bn as a result of ongoing Vouchers of Correction.   

Looking forward, Hodes said an elevation in trade tensions could further dampen global trade activity and while import growth would likely be restricted by the moderation in the international oil price and restrained rates of domestic consumption, we could see the trade account recording a deficit position for the next few months. 

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE