SA's trade surplus swells to R57bn thanks to commodities boom

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SARS on Friday released trade balance data for June.
SARS on Friday released trade balance data for June.
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  • The June trade balance expanded to around R57 billion, from R54 billion recorded in May, data from the SA Revenue Service show.
  • The trade surplus surprised on the upside, as it exceeds the Bureau of Economic Research's consensus of R55 billion.
  • Economists had expected elevated commodity prices from exports to support the surplus.

June's trade surplus expanded to R57 billion from about R54 billion recorded in May, data from the South African Revenue Service (SARS) show.

The trade balance exceeds market expectations, with the Bureau of Economic Research's consensus for a surplus of R55 billion, while Investec expected a surplus of R48.6 billion.

For the year-to-date, the trade balance surplus is R255.5 billion, compared to R56.7 billion recorded over the same period last year.

Exports managed to increase 2% between May and June, to R166.5 billion, while imports decreased slightly to R108.8 billion.

For the year-to-date, exports have increased 51% for the year-to-date, to R895.7 billion. By comparison, imports increased 19.3% to R640 billion.

In a note ahead of the data being released, Investec economist Kamilla Kaplan highlighted that export performance would likely be supported by elevated commodity prices, and the expansion of international trade flows. SARS's data show that exports were mainly driven by precious metals and stones, followed by vehicle and transport equipment, although the value of the latter was much lower than that recorded in May. 

On the flip side, subdued domestic consumption and investment activity have "curtailed" imports of consumption and capital goods, Kaplan said.

The rand - which was trading at R14.60 to the greenback - has since strengthened to R14.58. 

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