SOUTH Africa’s trade deficit fell dramatically to R7.94bn in November from the shocking R21.2bn it reached in October, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) reported on Friday.
This brought the cumulative deficit for the year to date to R112.7bn, compared with R18.4bn for the same period in 2011.
Imports of R74.21bn exceeded exports of R66.27bn, with imports falling by R8.1bn or 9.8% month on month and exports increasing by R5.1bn or 8.4%.
SARS said the narrower trade deficit "was due to decreased imports of machinery and electrical appliances, vehicles, aircraft and vessels, and mineral products and exports increased in precious and semiprecious stones, vessels, aircraft and aircraft and base metals".
The ballooning trade deficit has been of particular concern to economists in the context of increasingly negative sentiment towards South Africa, which relies on foreign capital inflows to finance the deficit.
The information provided by SARS showed exports of precious and semiprecious stones and metals increased by R3bn or 26%; vehicles, aircraft and vessels by R1,3bn or 21%; and base metals and articles thereof by R808m or 10%. The export of mineral products declined by R675m or 4% and vegetable products fell by R532m or 30%.
The decline in imports was mainly due to a R2,5bn or 12% fall in machinery and electrical appliances purchases. Imports of vehicles, aircraft and vessels dropped by R2bn or 23%, while mineral products dropped by R1,85bn or 11%, original equipment components fell by R701m or 14% and textile and textile articles declined by R338m or 13%.