President Ramaphosa wins the leadership at the end of December 2017 and the rand started to appreciate from R13.51 to the dollar to R12.43 on January 12, 2018.
Jacob Zuma resigns as South African president on February 14, 2018 and the rand firms to R11.67 a dollar and President Ramaposa delivers the first State of the Nation Address (Sona) on February 15, 2018.
Former Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba delivers the Budget Speech on February 21, 2018 and the rand is sitting pretty at R11.62 to the greenback.
Then the tailspin
The rand began to depreciate seriously from the beginning of April with the announcement of the tit-for-tat US-China trade war.
Trade war time
March 23, 2018: US imposes a 25 percent tariff on all steel imports – except from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, and South Korea – and a 10 percent tariff on all aluminium imports – except from Argentina and Australia. The rand is at R11.67 a dollar.
April 2, 2018: China imposes tariffs ranging between 15 percent and 25 percent on 128 products worth $3 billion including fruit, wine, seamless steel pipes, pork and recycled aluminium in retaliation to the US’s steel and aluminium tariffs. The rand eases to R11.86 a dollar.
April 16, 2018: The US Department of Commerce concludes that Chinese telecom company ZTE violated US sanctions. US companies are banned from doing business with ZTE for seven years. The rand softens further to R11.98 a dollar.
May 3-7, 2018: The US and China engage in trade talks in Beijing, where the US demands that China reduce the trade gap by $200 billion within two years. Talks end with no resolution. The rand tanks to R12.63 a dollar.
May 29, 2018: The US reinstates tariff plans after brief truce. The rand trades at R12.78 a dollar
June 15, 2018: Initial list of products reduced and finalised. List 1 now implements a 25 percent tariff on a reduced 818 products – from 1 334 – and is set to take effect on July 6, 2018. List 2 of 284 new products is also announced and under consideration. The rand breaches the R13/$ mark to trade at R13.39 a dollar.
June 16, 2018: China revises its initial tariff list – 25 percent on 106 products – to now include a 25 percent tariff on 545 products valued at $34 billion. This tariff will take effectJuly 6, 2018. China also proposes a second round of 25 percent tariffs on a further 114 products valued at $16 billion.
July 6, 2018: The US implements first China-specific tariffs. The rand trades at R13.69 a dollar.
August 23, 2018: The US and China implement second round of tariffs, China files second WTO complaint. The rand trades at R14.40 a dollar.
September 7, 2018: US President Donald Trump threatens new tariffs. The rand sinks to its lowest point of R15.40 a dollar.
Since then the rand started to improve as the Fed announced that it would not increase interest rates further and US trade negotiations started and the rand recovered to R13.31 on January 31, 2018
The combination of further US trade tariffs and the Eskom debacle pushed the rand back to R14.18 on the eve of South African Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s maiden Budget Speech.