JOHANNESBURG – South Africa's trade surplus soared to R13.02-billion ($1.06-billion) in November, its highest in a one-and-a-half years as exports of mineral and chemical products as well as commodities and vehicles grew briskly while imports were subdued.
It was a big jump in the surplus from R4.34-billion in October, according to revenue service data on Thursday, and well above market expectations of a modest 1.3-billion surplus in November - the tenth consecutive month in the black.
Exports in November expanded by 11.5%, with sales of precious stones and minerals up 21%, base metals rising 19% and vehicles and transportation equipment exports climbing 16%. Imports in the month grew by 3.3%
A rebound in global prices of commodities such as gold and platinum, driven by greater demand from China as well as the eurozone, coupled with a volatile currency in the last quarter of the year, have supported exports.
On a cumulative basis, the trade balance between January and November was at a R64.7-billion rand surplus, compared with a R11.22-billion shortfall over the same period in 2016.
The Reserve Bank said in November the positive trade account was supportive of the rand and, along with the narrowing current account deficit, would help the economy withstand some of the effects of a recent credit downgrade to subinvestment.