South Africa records R10.2 billion trade surplus

 ·3 Jul 2023

The South Africa Revenue Service (SARS) says the nation recorded a trade balance surplus of R10.2 billion in May 2023.

SARS said that the surplus was due to exports of R184.2 billion and imports of R174.0 billion – when including trade with Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho and Namibia (BELN).

However, the year-to-date preliminary trade balance of R9.4 billion is less than R107.3 billion recorded over the same period in 2022 – a drop of R97.9 billion.

Year-on-year export flows grew 2.1% from R180.4 billion in May 2022 to R184.2 billion in May 2023.

Import flows were also higher, increasing from R151.1 billion in May 2022 to R174.0 billion in May 2023.

On a month-to-month basis, exports increased 12.3% from R164.0 billion in April 2023 to R184.2 billion in May 2023. Imports also jumped 8.7% from R160 billion to R174 billion in the same period.

Following ongoing Vouchers of Correction (VOCs), the preliminary trade balance surplus of R3.5 billion announced for April 2023 was revised upwards by R400 million to R3.9 billion.

SARS said that the jump in export flows in May was driven by platinum, gold, and diamonds, whilst the value of imports increased due to an upsurge in the importation of crude and petroleum oils.

China was once again South Africa’s biggest trading partner, totalling 11.9% of exports and 23.1% of imports.

Germany was South Africa’s second-largest trading partner, accounting for 8.6% of exports and 8.9% of imports.

The United States took the bronze, accounting for 7.7% of exports and 8.2% of imports, despite the tense diplomatic relationship between South Africa and the world’s largest economy.

For exports, the top five was completed by the United Kingdom (5.6%) and Japan (5.2%), whilst India (6.9% and the United Arab Emirates (3.3%) completed the top five for imports.

Excluding BELN

Despite the overall surplus, when trade with Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho and Namibia (BELN) is excluded, South Africa recorded a preliminary trade balance deficit of R0.8 billion.

Without BELN, exports totalled R168.0 billion, and imports totalled R168.8 billion.

In addition, the preliminary cumulative trade balance deficit for 2023 was R39.6 billion.

In 2022, without BELN, South Africa recorded a trade balance surplus of R60.2 billion.

Month-on-month, exports increased by R17.9 billion (11.9%), whilst imports grew by R13.5 billion (8.7%).

Read: Interest rate trouble ahead

Show comments
Subscribe to our daily newsletter