Picture: Nadine Hutton

Johannesburg - South Africa’s trade surplus shrank in July as the exports of precious metals and stones, which include gold and diamonds, declined.

The surplus decreased to R5.2 billion from R12.5bn in June, the SA Revenue Service said yesterday.

The median of nine economist estimates compiled by Bloomberg was for a surplus of R8bn. The rand’s 27 percent drop against the dollar last year has boosted exports, even as demand in South Africa’s largest trading partners is subdued.

Low metal prices and the worst drought in more than a century have weighed on South Africa, which will probably not grow at all this year, according to the central bank.

“External demand seems to have retained some resilience,” Manisha Morar, an economist at ETM Analytics, said. “We do see some risks to exports going forward.”

The cumulative surplus for this year is R17.4bn compared with a deficit of R24.7bn in the same period last year, the revenue agency said. Exports fell 9 percent to R95.7bn. Imports were 2.4 percent lower at R90.5bn as machinery and electronics and equipment components decreased.