South Africa’s trade deficit narrowed more than estimated in September as production and exports of precious metals gained pace after platinum miners ended a five-month wage strike.
The trade gap narrowed to 2.9 billion rand ($267.1 million) from 16.3 billion rand in August, the Pretoria-based South African Revenue Service said in an e-mailed statement today. The median estimate of 14 economists surveyed by Bloomberg was for a shortfall of 11.5 billion rand.
The deficit has added to pressure on the current account, the gap on which swelled to 6.2% of gross domestic product in the second quarter. The trade deficit widened to 73.7 billion rand for the first nine months of the year compared with 63.7 billion rand for the same period in 2013, the revenue service said.
The strike by more than 70,000 miners at Anglo American Platinum Ltd., Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. and Lonmin Plc cost the companies 23.9 billion rand in revenue and workers 10.6 billion rand in lost wages before it ended on June 24. Mines took several months to ramp up production.
Exports jumped 18% to 90.8 billion rand in September as shipments of precious metals and stones, including platinum, surged 45%. Mineral-product shipments advanced 24%, while exports of vehicles and transport equipment increased by 22%.
Imports gained 1.4% to 93.7 billion rand as purchases of mineral products, which includes oil, rose 0.2 percent. Imports of vegetable products surged 77%.
The monthly trade figures are often volatile, reflecting the timing of shipments of commodities such as oil and diamonds.