File image: IOL.
JOHANNESBURG - South Africa recorded a R3.52billion trade surplus in May from an upwardly revised R1.17bn in April. 

Data from the SA Revenue Service (Sars), however, showed that the surplus did little to halt the poor economic performance as the country’s overall deficit rose to R17.77bn between January and May and deteriorated from R7.89bn the country posted during the corresponding period last year. 

Sars said the May trade balance was attributable to exports of R102.61bn and imports of R99.09bn. “Exports increased from April 2018 to May 2018 by R14.15bn, and imports increased from April 2018 to May 2018 by R11.80bn,” Sars said. 

The country recorded a trade surplus of R15.6bn with the rest of Africa in May, an improvement of R15.6bn and up from a R12.7bn surplus in April. 

The main month-on-month export movements were realised in vegetable products, which surged 56percent; vehicle and transport equipment, which leapt 29percent; and chemical products, which rose by 28percent. Vegetable products also claimed the lion’s share of imports in the period, surging 135percent, while precious metals increased 60percent. In May South Africa also recorded the weakest growth in private sector credit since September 2010. 

Private sector credit extension moderated to 4.6percent year-on-year in May from 5.1percent in April, on the back of a further decline in credit to the corporate sector. 

The corporate credit category comprises 55.1percent of total credit extended. Investec economist Lara Hodes said a recovery in business confidence was needed to drive demand, and therefore fixed investment, in order to propel growth in this sector. “Looking at a disaggregation of the corporate data, the general loans and advances segment was chiefly responsible for the decline in this category,” Hodes said. 

"It constitutes nearly half of total corporate credit extended.” 

- BUSINESS REPORT