December trade surplus best in 27 years

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5 minutes ago

Arabile Gumede, Bloomberg

Johannesburg – South Africa recorded its biggest trade surplus in least 27 years in December as imports of equipment components, electronics and chemical products dropped.

The R15.7bn surplus compares with November’s R13.1bn positive balance, the South African Revenue Service said in an emailed statement on Wednesday. It’s the 11th straight month of surpluses, the longest such streak since 1999.

Positive trade balances have eased pressure on the current account, the broadest measure of trade in goods and services, boosting the rand.

The currency has also rallied since December, when the ANC ruling African National Congress elected Cyril Ramaphosa to lead the party. It strengthened to below 12/$ for the first time since May 2015 last week as the domestic political outlook improved.

Highlights from the statement:

Imports of original equipment components decreased 58% from November, while inward shipment of machinery and electronics fell 15%.

Exports of mineral products retreated 12% and shipments of vehicle and transport equipment were down 23%.

Total exports fell 10% and total imports decreased 14.1%.

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