South Africa posted a trade surplus of ZAR 1.74 billion in May 2019, compared to a ZAR 3.43 billion deficit in the previous month and below market expectations of a ZAR 2.7 billion surplus.
Exports jumped 8.1 percent month-over-month to ZAR 112.07 billion in May, boosted by sales of precious metals & stones (29 percent), vegetable products (37 percent), chemical products (24 percent), machinery & electronics (11 percent), and base metals (5 percent). By contrast, exports of vehicles & transport equipments dropped 9 percent. The most important export partners were China (11.0 percent of total sales), the US (7.2 percent), Germany (6.8 percent), the UK (6.1 percent) and Japan (5.4 percent).
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Imports rose at a slower 3.0 percent to ZAR 110.33 billion, mainly due to purchases of vehicles & transport equipment (22 percent), machinery & electronics (7 percent), and base metals (10 percent). On the other hand, imports of vegetable products and mineral products declined 25 percent and 4 percent respectively. Main import partners were China (18.5 percent of total purchases), Germany (9.1 percent), the US (7.3 percent), India (4.9 percent) and Nigeria (4.6 percent).
Excluding trade with neighbouring Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland, the country's trade gap was ZAR 7.31 billion. Exports rose 7.3 percent to ZAR 99.24 billion while imports increased 2.6 percent to ZAR 106.55 billion.