Pretoria – South Africa recorded a trade balance surplus of R6.7bn for September 2016, the SA Revenue Service (Sars) announced on Monday.sa5

Sars said the year-to-date deficit – from January 1 to September 30 – of R9.95bn is an improvement on the deficit for the comparable period in 2015 of R37.19bn.

These statistics include trade data with Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland (BLNS). The trade data excluding BLNS for September 2016 recorded a trade balance deficit of R3.05bn.

In line with international statistical best practice, the February 2016 to July 2016 export figures have been adjusted by R23.9bn, resulting in the year-to-date trade balance being revised downwards from a R7.41bn trade surplus published in August 2016 to a R9.95bn trade deficit in September 2016.

Sars said the R23.9bn adjustment is as a result of revisions to the gold exports by the SA Reserve Bank (Sarb) which supplies the gold export data to Sars. These gold revisions (for the first half of 2016) have been disclosed by Sarb in the September 2016 Quarterly Bulletin.

The revisions relate mainly to adjustments made for gold that was moved to facilities outside South Africa, but with ownership of the gold retained by South African entities.

The R6.70bn trade balance surplus for September 2016 is attributable to exports of R98.92bn and imports of R92.22bn. Exports for the year-to-date grew by 5.8% from R770.20bn in 2015 to R815.24bn in 2016. Imports for the year-to-date of R825.19bn are 2.2% more than the imports recorded in January to September 2015 of R807.39bn.

On a year-on-year basis, September 2016’s R6.70bn trade balance surplus is an improvement from the deficit recorded in September 2015 of R2.20bn. Exports of R98.92bn are 8.8% more than the exports recorded in September 2015 of R90.93bn. Imports of R92.22bn are 1% less than the imports recorded in September 2015 of R93.13bn.

August 2016’s trade balance deficit was revised upwards by R0.32bn from the previous month’s preliminary deficit of R8.56bn to a revised deficit of R8.88bn as a result of ongoing Vouchers of Correction (VOCs).

Exports increased from August 2016 to September 2016 by R9.05bn (10.1%) and imports decreased from August 2016 to September 2016 by R6.53bn (6.6%).