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SA’s trade surplus widens, but it could be thwarted by renewed lockdown restrictions

SA’s trade surplus widens, but it could be thwarted by renewed lockdown restrictions

Another hard lockdown in Europe would negatively impact SA exports.

Another hard lockdown in Europe would negatively impact SA exports.

While South Africa’s trade surplus increased in August, concerns of a second wave of Covid-19 infections could see countries implement restrictions again with consequences for international trade, an economist warned.

The South African Revenue Service on Wednesday released trade statistics for August. It showed that the trade surplus increased to R38.9 billion, slightly up from the R37.2 billion reported in July. This is attributed to rising exports, which rose by 8.8% year-on-year. On a month-on-month basis exports increased by 6.6%. The increase in exports is in line with improvements in global demand, noted Investec economist Lara Hodes.  

Imports increased at a slower pace than that reported in July, up 7.4% on a month-on-month basis. It continues to remain restricted by “weak domestic consumption” and “investment demand,” Hodes said. Year-on-year, imports declined by 20.7%.

“Going forward, heightened uncertainty continues to underpin the global economic outlook.

“Specifically, the implementation of renewed restrictions in certain countries to try and curb second waves of Covid-19 infections would impede the pace of global recovery and thus international trade,” Hodes said.

The cumulative, year-to-date trade surplus is R134.1 billion compared to the deficit of R4.1 billion recorded for the same period last year, according to SARS.

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