World Economy

S. Africa Posts Trade Surplus

S. Africa Posts Trade SurplusS. Africa Posts Trade Surplus

South Africa posted its biggest trade surplus in four years in December as factories cut back on imports of machinery and equipment during the year-end holiday period, Bloomberg reported. The trade surplus widened to 8.2 billion rand ($0.5 billion) from revised 0.7 billion rand in November, the Pretoria-based South African Revenue Service said in an e-mailed statement. The median of 13 economist estimates compiled by Bloomberg was for a surplus of 4.9 billion rand. “December usually delivers a surplus largely driven by the seasonal slump in imports, ” Carmen Nel, an economist at FirstRand Ltd.’s Rand Merchant Bank unit, said by phone from Cape Town before the data was released. “Some of it relates to the slowdown in domestic demand, which should curtail imports, and also the lag impact of the lower oil price.” Imports plunged by 13% to 80.6 billion rand in the month, led by a 16% drop in machinery purchases and 35% decline in equipment components. Exports fell by 5.1% to 88.8 billion rand, mainly due to a 28% plunge in vehicle shipments.