South Africa’s trade surplus swelled to a record after eased lockdown restrictions allowed more exports, while demand for imports weakened.
The positive trade balance widened to R46.6-billion last month from a revised R19.7-billion in May, the South African Revenue Services said Friday in a statement on its website. That’s the biggest surplus since at least January 1990, as far as the record goes back. The median estimate of five economists in a Bloomberg survey was for a surplus of R10-billion.
Exports climbed by 10.1% to R116.3-billion, driven by a 19% surge in precious metals and stones. Imports dropped 18.9% to R69.68-billion as the inward shipment of textiles fell by 53% and vehicles and transportation equipment decreased by 40% and original equipment components by 64%.
South Africa eased lockdown restrictions further on June 1, allowing most businesses including steel mills, factories and all retail outlets to reopen. However, many companies have closed permanently due to losses suffered, increasing the ranks of the unemployed and weighing on private-sector demand.
While Cape Town’s main port faced delays due to inclement weather and staff shortages due to virus restrictions, fruit exporters in the Western Cape province trucked their produce hundreds of miles to access shipping routes to the European Union.