South Africa's trade surplus widens as imports fall

South Africa's trade surplus widened in November as the value of imports of equipment components and chemical products decreased.

The R6.1bn positive balance compares with a revised R2.75bn surplus in October, the South African Revenue Service said Friday in a statement on its website. The median estimate of four economists in a Bloomberg survey was for a surplus of R12.2bn.

Key insights

The surplus may bode well for the current account, which is the broadest measure of trade in goods and services, and the rand.

The deficit on the current account hasn't dipped below 2% of gross domestic product since the end of 2016 and has been a key risk to the economy for years.

The country also runs a fiscal deficit, which is forecast to widen to an 11-year high as the government props up the cash-strapped power utility Eskom.

The trade account has a positive balance of R10.54bn for the first 11 months of 2019, compared with a deficit of R1.24bn for the same period last year, the revenue authority said.

Total export value decreased 5% from a month earlier owing to a decline in mineral products and vehicle and transport equipment.
    
Imports fell 8% as the value of the inward shipment of equipment components and chemical products declined.

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