The SA motor industry’s trade deficit narrowed by more than 7% in 2018 as vehicle and components exports set new records. The latest Automotive Export Manual, published on Friday, shows that the deficit — the value difference between imports and exports — shrank from R43.5bn in 2017 to R40.3bn in 2018. Once again, had it not been for spare parts imported for the vehicle after-market, the industry would have had a surplus. Most of these parts are brought in by independent importers. Direct trade involving local motor companies and components manufacturers showed a R16.8bn surplus, an improvement of more than 50% from the previous year’s R10.3bn. The manual, published by the Automotive Industry Export Council (AIEC), shows that the value of SA vehicle and component exports hit a record R178.8bn in 2018. Most of this, R127.5bn, came from the export of 351,139 cars and commercial vehicles — another record. The value of components exports grew by 2% to R51.3bn. The total value of all...

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