SA switched back to a trade surplus of R1.74bn in May, as growth in exports exceeded growth in imports.

May’s surplus was attributable to exports of R112.07bn and imports of R110.33bn, data from Sars showed on Friday. Economists polled by Bloomberg expected a smaller surplus of R700m

April 2019’s trade deficit, which came as a surprise, was revised upwards by R100m to R3.53bn.

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.

The figures are difficult to predict and economists stress that it is important to look at longer-term trends. However, the relatively contained surplus reflects subdued domestic and international economic growth.

May’s surplus is a deterioration on the R4.76bn surplus recorded in May 2018. However, for the year, the cumulative trade deficit of R6.05bn is an improvement on the R12.08bn deficit for the same period in 2018.