Trade Deficit Widens, Economists Await Current Account Data
02 December 2013
Posted by: Author: BDlive
South Africa’s trade balance, which now includes trade with Botswana‚ Lesotho‚ Namibia and Swaziland recorded a wider R12.39bn deficit in October, from a restated R11.9bn deficit in September.
South African Revenue Service (SARS) customs and excise data showed on Friday that the trade balance recorded a R20.97bn deficit excluding trade with Botswana‚ Lesotho‚ Namibia and Swaziland is excluded, widening from R18.9bn in September.
The deficit was much as expected, but economists said it was still wide.
A poll of economists surveyed by BDlive had forecast a R12.5bn deficit. The forecasts ranged from a deficit of R8bn to a deficit of R16bn.
Vunanai Securities economist Ilke van Zyl said seasonal worsening was countered by "upbeat import figures from Japan and China" during October.
"It is still, however, a wide deficit, and we will be keenly watching the current account data come Tuesday to assess the country’s escalating external vulnerabilities," Ms van Zyl said.
The R12.39bn deficit for October was attributed to exports of R81.7bn and imports of R94.09bn.
The cumulative deficit for 2013 is R76.1bn, compared with R38.62bn during the same period in 2012.
Excluding trade with Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland, the cumulative deficit for 2013 is R146.58bn, compared with R106.16bn in 2012.
ETM Analytics economist Jana le Roux noted that the cumulative deficit was almost twice the 2012 figure. "Despite the inclusion of Botswana‚ Lesotho‚ Namibia and Swaziland in the data, the structural factors that have been driving a large external imbalance remain a feature," she said.
Nedbank economist Isaac Matshego said the data "(confirm) the trend that we’ve seen since early 2012 of export underperformance and imports remaining high".
Exports increased from September to October by R5.83bn or 7.7%‚ and imports rose by R6.32bn or 7.2%.
Exports that increased included vehicles, aircraft and vessels exports, up 74% or R2.98bn; precious and semiprecious stones and metals, up 7% or R973m; and machinery and electrical appliances, up 10% or R720m.
Exports of mineral products fell 4% or R829m and exports of vegetable products dropped by 28% or R1.05bn.
Vehicles, aircraft and vessels imports increased by 28% or R1.92bn; imports of products of the chemicals or allied industries rose R1.71bn or 22%; and imports of machinery and electrical appliances increased by R1.24bn or 6%.
The imports of base metals and base-metal articles increased by R1.05bn or 27%, while those of mineral products fell by R1.09bn or 5%.