Bloomberg News

South Africa Posts Trade Surplus in September as Exports Climb

November 01, 2011

Oct. 31 (Bloomberg) -- South Africa posted a 2.5 billion rand ($320 million) trade surplus in September, the first in three months, as exports of metals and precious stones climbed, offsetting higher machinery imports.

The surplus compared with a deficit of 3.7 billion rand in August, the Pretoria-based South African Revenue Service said in an e-mailed statement today. The median estimate of 7 economists in a Bloomberg survey was for a surplus of 1 billion rand.

Exports rose 11 percent to 67.8 billion rand, boosted by a 28 percent jump in shipments of precious stones and metals, while imports increased 0.8 percent to 65.3 billion rand, the agency said.

Rising commodity prices may help narrow the current account deficit, which reached 3.3 percent of gross domestic product in the second quarter. Gold has surged 21 percent this year, reaching a record $1,921.15 an ounce on Sept. 6. Gold and platinum account for about a fifth of the country’s exports, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. South Africa is the world’s biggest producer of platinum and chrome.

South Africa’s rand weakened 14 percent against the dollar in September, the biggest monthly decline in about three years, making exports cheaper abroad.

The government cut its forecast for growth in Africa’s biggest economy this year to 3.1 percent from 3.4 percent, as growth in Europe, which buys about a third of the nation’s manufactured goods, stalls. South Africa’s economic expansion slowed to an annualized 1.3 percent in the second quarter, the lowest in almost two years as manufacturing and mining output contracted.

The monthly trade figures are often volatile, reflecting the timing of shipments of commodities such as oil and diamonds.

--Editors: Gordon Bell, Nasreen Seria

To contact the reporter on this story: Andres R. Martinez in Johannesburg at amartinez28@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net


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