Trade Surplus of ZAR 11.44bn holds despite stronger Rand

South Africa’s trade surplus for March 2017 improved by ZAR 5.2bn to ZAR 11.44bn from February. This is according to the South African Revenue Service (SARS) trade data for March 2017. The year to-date trade balance surplus for the first quarter of 2017 is an improvement of ZAR 4.98bn compared to the ZAR 24.27bn deficit reported for the corresponding period in 2016. This data includes trade data with Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland (BLNS). The total exports came to ZAR 101.23bn, with imports at ZAR 89.79bn.

Karl Gotte, head of Standard Bank commercial banking explained that the first quarter of 2017 was off to a good start, but some sectors are still struggling. Referring to the BankServ Africa Economic Transaction Index (BETI), which showed an improvement in domestic activity, as well as the latest producer price inflation (PPI) and stable inflation, Gotte said this showed domestic pricing pressures are easing. “The anticipated effects of the recent downgrades may not be immediate,” he said. “Businesses need to be cognisant of the recent dynamics in the economy but not react hastily as the economy has been showing a surprising resilience and deviating from popular predictions or industrial norms.” He added that larger businesses would be more affected by both local and global market events, but there may be opportunities for these businesses to act as venture capitalists to help grow start-ups.

h3. Trading in Detail

Exports increased 16% from February 2017 to March 2017 by ZAR 13.96bn. Imports increased by ZAR 7.32bn or 8.9%, reported SARS. For the quarter, exports had grown 8% to ZAR 268.68bn, from the value of ZAR 248.72bn reported in 2016. Imports however had declined 3.4% to ZAR 263.71bn over the past year. The bulk of the exports are attributed to *precious metals and stones*, followed by *vehicles* and *transport equipment* as well as *machinery and electronics*.

The biggest export partner was Asia, with over ZAR 30bn worth of exported goods, followed by Africa with ZAR 27bn, then Europe with ZAR 26bn. Exports to *America* amounted to just over ZAR 8bn. The biggest import partner was *Asia*, with ZAR 35bn worth of imported goods, followed by *Europe* with ZAR 32bn worth of goods.

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