South Africa’s robust third quarter recovery in merchandise exports continued in the fourth quarter of 2020, growing at an even faster pace by 16.6% (quarter-on-quarter), amounting to R412 billion. The decline in imports moderated to -6.3%, amounting to R307 billion, in constant rand terms compared to the -19.6% decline in Q3 2020 (quarter-on-quarter). The fourth quarter of 2020 recorded a trade balance of R104 billion (US$6.7 billion), marking South Africa’s seventh straight quarter trade surplus.
In US dollar terms, merchandise exports were up by 13.4% (quarter-on-quarter) to US$26.4 billion, while imports declined by 8.9% in Q4 2020 to US$19.7 billion. Taking into account the COVID-19 containment measures and possible effectiveness of the mass vaccination programmes being implemented in most countries globally, and the ongoing surge in metals prices, South Africa’s export performance is expected to continue on a steady growth path.
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