South Africa’s Current Account Deficit Widens Sharply in Fourth Quarter

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South Africa’s current account deficit significantly expanded in the fourth quarter of 2023, reaching 2.3% of gross domestic product (GDP) compared to a revised 0.5% in the previous quarter, according to data released by the South African Reserve Bank (SARB). The deficit for the full year 2023 stood at 1.6% of GDP, slightly lower than the National Treasury’s estimate of 1.8%.

In terms of rand, the current account deficit widened to 165.5 billion rand ($8.78 billion) in the October-December period, marking a notable increase from 34.4 billion rand in the previous three months. The trade surplus narrowed to 88.1 billion rand in the fourth quarter from 181.1 billion rand in the third quarter. Additionally, the annual trade surplus for 2023 decreased to 1.5% of GDP from 3.4% in 2022.

The SARB attributed the narrowing of the fourth-quarter trade surplus to a significant increase in the value of imports compared to exports. Imports, particularly of crude oil and refined petroleum products, saw a notable rise in value, while exports of pearls, precious and semi-precious stones declined. However, exports of fruit and manufacturing products experienced an increase during the period.

Source: Reuters

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