SA recorded a surprise trade deficit of R3.43bn in April, despite expectations of a slight surplus.

April’s deficit was attributable to exports of R103.75bn and imports of R107.18bn, data from Sars showed on Friday.

Exports decreased by 1.3% from the month before while imports increased by 6.8%.

SA has been hit by waning demand from its main trading partners as well as a deterioration in the terms of trade. Analysts had expected the trade account to show a small surplus, as trade activity is typically affected by Easter and public holidays in April. Macroe-conomics website Trading Economics expected a small surplus of R1.4bn.

However, the figures are difficult to predict and economists stress that it is important to look at longer-term trends.

Compared to last year, the deficit was also a deterioration, with a deficit of R1.88bn recorded in April 2018.

March’s surplus was revised down by R0.29bn to R4.71bn.​

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