On Wednesday, the rand traded on the wrong side of R15/$ for the first time in three weeks amid growing concern about conflict between the US and China.
At the United Nations on Tuesday, US president Donald Trump accused China of “massive” market barriers, currency manipulation and intellectual property theft.
“Hopefully we can reach an agreement that will be beneficial for both countries,” Trump said. “As I have made very clear, I will not accept a bad deal.”
Meanwhile, the Chinese news service Xinhua reports that the Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi hit back.
“China has no intention to play a 'Game of Thrones', or in other words, seek hegemony on the world stage,” Wang said, according to the Xinhua report.
He added that some in the US was hyping a so-called "shift of international power" towards China. “Such a claim is a strategic misjudgement about China and reflects a lack of self-confidence.”
In a world confronted with more and more challenges, no country can do well in isolation or fix all the problems single-handedly, Wang said, Xinhua reported.
The markets now hold little hope of a trade agreement when the US and China meet next week.
As investors grew wary about the risks in the market, they moved away from emerging markets, which left the rand and other currencies exposed.
By lunchtime on Wednesday, the rand was trading at R15.01/$, more than a percent weaker than on Friday. It was also worth R18.63/pound and R16.50/euro.