Trade surplus in June surprises at more than double the forecasts
SA recorded a substantial surplus of R12bn in June, beating market expectations. This follows May’s surplus of R3.5bn, which was revised upwards by R0.33bn.
Data from the South African Revenue Service (SARS) on Tuesday showed that June’s surplus was attributable to exports of R110.15bn and imports of R98.15bn. Exports increased from May 2018 to June 2018 by R7.27bn (7.1%) while imports decreased by R0.89bn (0.9%).
On a year-on-year basis, this is an improvement from the surplus recorded in June 2017 of R8.7bn.
Both Investec and a Bloomberg consensus expected the trade surplus in June to be larger than that of May, at R5bn. "This estimate is underpinned by a likely continued rise in exports for the month, albeit at a slower pace," said Investec economist Lara Hodes.
She also expected a rise in the value of imports, but at a slower rate than in May, as the weaker rand exchange rate continues to intensify pricing pressure on imports.
According to FNB, June has delivered an average surplus of R6bn since 2010. "We expect a June 2018 surplus roughly in this region, but acknowledge downside risk given how poorly the mining and manufacturing sectors have fared," said FNB chief economist Mamello Matikinca.
June’s surplus reduced the year-to-date trade deficit to approximately R1.8bn, which could prove mildly currency positive in the absence of mitigating global factors, she said. It is a far cry, however, from the R25bn surplus that was recorded by the same time last year.