SA’s trade deficit narrower, pressure seen

South Africa’s trade deficit narrowed sharply in May as exports rose despite a transport sector strike, the South African Revenue Service (Sars) said on Wednesday, but the outlook for key markets remains cloudy.

Sars said the trade gap narrowed to R302-million compared with a R1,9-billion shortfall in April.

Analysts had expected a wider deficit of R2,5-billion in a Reuters poll after a strike at logistics company Transnet brought port and rail traffic to a standstill for three weeks in May.

Exports were up 6,8% compared with the previous month, while imports rose by 3,1, Sars said.

“A surprisingly benign trade deficit for May — in a month marked by transport worker strikes. This will be seen as marginally positive for the rand,” said Razia Khan, head of Africa research at Standard Chartered.

“But … with signs of renewed weakness in the forward-looking sentiment indicators of some of South Africa’s key trading partners [most notably in Europe], the sustainability of a favourable export performance is not a given,” she added.

Exports fell in the first quarter mainly due to economic growth worries in the eurozone, South Africa’s main trading partner, the central bank said last week.

While the outlook for exports is uncertain, imports are likely to rise over the next few months as a local economic recovery gains momentum, putting pressure on the trade account, analysts said.

Sars also said the cumulative trade deficit so far this year was at R12,42-billion, compared with a R19,82-billion gap between January and end-May last year. — 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.


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

Lockdown relief scheme payouts to employees tops R14-billion

Now employers and employees can apply to the Unemployment Insurance Fund for relief scheme payments

Press Releases

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

Ethics and internal financial controls add value to the public sector

National treasury is rolling out accounting technician training programmes to upskill those who work in its finance units in public sector accounting principles

Lessons from South Korea for Africa’s development

'Leaders can push people through, through their vision and inspiration, based on their exemplary actions'

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday