South Africa recorded a trade surplus of R10,3-billion in December, as exports stood at R53,9-billion, while imports of R43,6-billion were reported, official data showed on Monday.
This compared with a trade surplus of R8,4-billion in November 2010, indicating a month-on-month improvement of R1,9-billion.
The South African Revenue Service (Sars) said that the surplus was buoyed by higher commodity exports, specifically in iron-ore, precious metals and base metals.
Overall trade activity was down in December, as exports decreased by R6,3-billion, or 10,4%, and imports fell by R8,2-billion, or 15,9%.
Sars also highlighted that South Africa reported an overall yearly surplus for the first time since 2003, when a yearly surplus of R12-billion was recorded.
The overall surplus for 2010 was R5-billion compared with a deficit of R27,3-billion in 2009, an improvement of R32,3-billion or 118,3%.
Sars added that the November to December change in exports of goods reflected decreases largely in prepared foodstuffs, beverages and tobacco, which decreased by R459-million – a drop of 25%.
Vehicles, aircraft and vessels exports decreased by R807-million, or 15%.
Mineral products exports decreased by R908-million, representing a decrease of 6%.
Precious and semi-precious stones and metals decreased by R1,6-billion – down 10%.
Base metals and articles thereof decreased by R1,6-billion – down 18%.
The November to December change in imports of goods – an overall 15,9% drop – was owing largely to fewer imports of metals and minerals.
Mineral products decreased by R365-million (-4%), plastics and rubber and articles thereof decreased by R417-million (-21%), and imports of base metals and articles thereof decreased by R843-million (-35%).
Textile and textile articles imports dropped by R478-million (-28%).
Original equipment components decreased by R1,1-billion (-37%), while machinery and electrical appliances imports declined by R2,4-billion (-18%).
Products of the chemical or allied industries decreased by R1,1-billion (-24%).
There was an increase in vehicles, aircraft and vessels imports of R324-million (6%).
Looking further afield, Sars noted that in Asia the deficit increased from R1,7-billion in November to R2,1-billion in December 2010. Exports decreased by R 3,4-billion to R18,1-billion and imports decreased by R3-billion to R20,2-billion.
In Europe, the deficit of R2,5-billion in November changed to a surplus of R0,2-billion in December 2010. Exports decreased by R0,9-billion to R14,1-billion and imports decreased by R3,6-billion to R13,9-billion.
In the US, the surplus decreased from R0,7-billion in November to R0,6-billion in December 2010. Exports decreased by R0,3-billion to R6,1-billion and imports decreased by R0,2-billion to R5,5-billion.
For the whole of Africa, the surplus increased from R4,9-billion in November to R5,3-billion in December 2010. Exports decreased by R0,9-billion to R8,2-billion and imports decreased by R1,3-billion to R3-billion.