South Africa recorded a R2.88bn trade deficit deficit for July, after recording a revised surplus of R5.4bn in June, the South African Revenue Service said in a statement on Friday.
A trade deficit shows that South Africa's imports exceeded the value of its exports.
The consensus expectation was for a surplus of R2.9 billion, said Investec economist Lara Hodes in a note to clients.
The R2.88 billion trade deficit for July 2019 is attributable to exports of R112.94 billion and imports of R115.82 billion.While South African exports of locally-made vehicles rose by 22% from the previous month, and exports of vegetables increased 28%, machinery and electronics worth R5 billion were imported - 22% more than the previous month.
Exports from June to July 2019 increased by R3.74bn (3.4%), while imports in the same period went up 11.7% to R12.17bn. The statistics include trade data with Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho and Namibia (BELN). Vehicle and transport equipment topped export products, followed by vegetable and chemical products.
SARS said the year-to-date trade deficit of R4.35bn was a deterioration from the R3.81bn deficit for the comparable period in 2018.
The overall year-on-year deficit comes as the country battles an economic slump, which has hit business confidence leading to downward growth forecasts.