South Africa’s cumulative trade deficit has declined 41.7% from R32.01bn in 2015 to R18.67bn in 2016, the South African Revenue Service (Sars) announced on Tuesday.
It said that while exports dropped by R3bn and imports decreased by R1.42bn between March and April, the region still recorded a R430m trade surplus in April. This compared to March’s surplus of R2.0bn.
The R430m surplus – which includes figures from SA, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland – was due to exports of R92.22bn (10% higher than April 2015) and imports of R91.79bn (6.4% higher than April 2015).
The results showed a decrease from the revised surplus of R2.03bn in March, but the annualised surplus is an improvement from the deficit recorded in April 2015 of R2.50bn.
March’s trade surplus was revised downwards by R890m from the previous month’s preliminary surplus of R2.92bn to a revised surplus of R2.03bn.
Karl Götte, head of Standard Bank Commercial Banking, said the economy deteriorated further in April.
“The Reserve Bank has brought down projections of GDP growth to 0.6% from the 0.8% growth forecast at the beginning of the year. Economic and business confidence may be tested by the looming possibility of a credit rating downgrade from S&P and Fitch at the beginning of June. In the event that a downgrade occurs, consumers and businesses would be further strained.”
He said expansion plans for businesses are likely to be influenced by current economic pressure. Businesses should focus on doing more with less until such time that the economy is more conducive for growth, he advised.