SA 2009 trade deficit narrows on slowdown

The deficit on South Africa’s trade account narrowed sharply in 2009 compared with the previous year due to a recession that slashed imports, official data showed on Friday.

The South African Revenue Service said the trade deficit for 2009 narrowed to R25,84-billion from a R71,63-billion gap the previous year, easing pressure on the country’s current account, previously a drag on the rand and economy as a whole.

For December, the trade account recorded a surplus of R3,7-billion compared with a R2,47-billion deficit in November as imports fell by 13,73% in the month and exports eased by 1,08%.

The trade number is generally volatile and difficult to forecast. Economist polled by Reuters predicted an R800-million deficit for December.

“The trade balance typically improves in December, as import activity winds down. This looks to have been the case this time around as well,” said Razia Khan, head of macroeconomics and Africa research at Standard Chartered.

“As much as the improvement in the trade balance overall is good news … it mostly reflects the weakness of the economy. As the economy recovers [very slowly] the trade balance should worsen again. But given the weakness of consumer demand, do not expect that to happen in a very dramatic way just yet.”

South Africa’s economy came out of its first recession in almost two decades in the third quarter of 2009, supported by the manufacturing sector as exports recovered in line with the global economy.

But the recovery is expected to be slow as heavily indebted consumers continue to be under pressure after the recession slashed about a million jobs.

Weak spending, and the better trade balance, helped narrow the deficit on the current account to 3,2%t of GDP in the third quarter of last year, its lowest level in four years. — Reuters

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.


Odd drop in how Covid-19 numbers grow

As the country hunkers down for a second week of lockdown, how reliable is the data available and will it enable a sound decision for whether South Africans can leave their homes on April 16?

Mail & Guardian needs your help

Our job is to help give you the information we all need to participate in building this country, while holding those in power to account. But now the power to help us keep doing that is in your hands

Press Releases

New energy mix on the cards

REI4P already has and will continue to yield thousands of employment opportunities

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders