SA recorded a trade surplus of R4.42bn in June as growth in exports exceeded growth in imports.

The surplus, the second in a row, was attributable to exports of R108.17bn against imports of R103.75bn, data from Sars showed on Wednesday. Economists polled by Bloomberg expected a smaller surplus of R4.20bn.

While this is an improvement from the May trade surplus, which was revised down by R0.4bn to a smaller surplus of R1.7bn, the figures are difficult to predict and economists stress that it is important to look at longer-term trends.

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

June’s surplus is a significant deterioration from the R12.19bn surplus recorded in June 2018.

For the year-to-date, SA recorded a trade deficit of R1.94bn which is a deterioration from the R0.11bn surplus for the comparable period in 2018.

This reflects subdued domestic and international economic growth. SA is expected to see growth below 1% this year while the global economy is slowing.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) cut its growth forecasts for the global economy for 2019 and 2020. It projects growth of 3.2% in 2019, down from its April forecast of 3.3%, while the forecast for 2020 will pick up to 3.5%, although this is below its earlier forecast of 3.6%, citing global trade tension and Brexit-related uncertainty as factors.

Trade tension between the US and China has escalated again  after US President Donald Trump dampened the hopes that the two would soon reach a trade deal. In a series of tweets on Tuesday, Trump threatened a tougher deal or no trade agreement between the two economic superpowers, after officials from both countries met in Shanghai this week.


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