Two tugboats manoeuvre the MSC Sola towards the container berth in the Port of Ngqura. File photo: THE HERALD/FREDLIN ADRIAAN
Two tugboats manoeuvre the MSC Sola towards the container berth in the Port of Ngqura. File photo: THE HERALD/FREDLIN ADRIAAN

SA recorded a trade deficit of R5.5bn in October — the largest in 10 months. 

October’s deficit was attributable to exports of R122.32bn and imports of R127.87, data from the SA Revenue Service (Sars) showed on Friday.

In particular, imports of vehicle equipment surged, while exports of agricultural products declined.

The Bloomberg consensus was for a deficit of R5bn.

September’s surplus was revised up to R3.83bn from R2.95bn.

The trade balance has registered a deficit in October for seven out of the past eight years.

The balance of trade is an indicator of the difference in value between the country’s imports and exports and dictates SA’s current account, which is indicative of SA’s trade with the rest of the world.

The figures are notoriously difficult to predict and analysts stress that it is important to look at trends.

The year-to-date (January 1 to October 31 2018) trade deficit, of R8.82bn, is a huge deterioration on the surplus for the comparable period in 2017, of R48.94bn.

The rand appeared unfazed by the news, last trading at R13.72 to the dollar from Thursday’s R13.66. It had earlier weakened to R13.76, ahead of trade talks between the US and China, who have been at each other’s throats over import tariffs.

menons@businesslive.co.za