The trade balance continued to decline in the first quarter of 2021, down to R96 billion from R103 billion in the fourth quarter of 2020. But year-on-year, the surplus is up 165%. This marks the second consecutive year of a first quarter trade surplus. Overall , South Africa has had a first quarter trade surplus in only three of the past 11 years. The surplus in 2021 is driven by high exports of commodities and lower imports, particularly of crude oil, which has been the case since the COVID-19 pandemic began.