SA February trade deficit widens as imports rise

South Africa’s trade deficit widened in February, data showed on Wednesday, reflecting a rise in imports as the economy recovers from last year’s downturn.

A deterioration in the trade balance from a near-balance in 2004 has contributed to South Africa’s current-account deficit, in turn weighing on the rand currency.

But the shortfall has been lower than usual over the past year as the first recession in nearly two decades kept imports depressed.

The South African Revenue Service said the trade shortfall widened to R5,7-billion in February from a R3,33-billion shortfall in January, as imports of mineral products, vehicles and aircraft rose.

The trade number is generally volatile and difficult to forecast, with economists polled by Reuters having predicted a deficit of R2,5-billion.

“It’s definitely a disappointing figure, which is maybe a sign that imports are reviving faster than had gone so far. I think it points to the fact that at some point we’re going to have a widening of the current-account deficit as the economy recovers,” said Citi economist Jean-Francois Mercier.

“It might dampen a little bit the confidence in the rand in the past few weeks, it might check a little bit the upward momentum in the currency.”

Compared with the previous month, exports were up 10,06% while imports increased by 14,96%, Sars said.

South Africa’s account-deficit narrowed to 2,8% of GDP in the fourth quarter of 2009, its lowest level in four-and-a-half years, from a shortfall of 3,1% in the previous quarter. – 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.


Two dead in new ANC KwaZulu-Natal killings

A Mtubatuba councillor and a Hammarsdale ANC Youth League leader were shot yesterday near their homes

Inside Facebook’s big bet on Africa

New undersea cables will massively increase bandwidth to the continent

No back to school for teachers just yet

Last week the basic education minister was adamant that teachers will return to school on May 25, but some provinces say not all Covid-19 measures are in place to prevent its spread

Engineering slips out of gear at varsity

Walter Sisulu University wants to reprioritise R178-million that it stands to give back to treasury after failing to spend it

Press Releases

Priorities of
 the Russian BRICS chairship in 2020

BRICS events planned for earlier this year were cancelled, but some will be conducted in the new format of video conference

Road to recovery for the tourism sector: The South African perspective

The best-case scenario is that South Africa's tourism sector’s recovery will only begin in earnest towards the end of this year

Covid-19: Eased lockdown and rule of law Webinar

If you are arrested and fined in lockdown, you do get a criminal record if you pay the admission of guilt fine

Covid-19 and Frontline Workers

Who is caring for the healthcare workers? 'Working together is how we are going to get through this. It’s not just a marathon, it’s a relay'.

PPS webinar Part 2: Small business, big risk

The risks that businesses face and how they can be dealt with are something all business owners should be well acquainted with

Call for applications for the position of GCRO executive director

The Gauteng City-Region Observatory is seeking to appoint a high-calibre researcher and manager to be the executive director and to lead it

DriveRisk stays safe with high-tech thermal camera solution

Itec Evolve installed the screening device within a few days to help the driver behaviour company become compliant with health and safety regulations

Senwes launches Agri Value Chain Food Umbrella

South African farmers can now help to feed the needy by donating part of their bumper maize crop to delivery number 418668