FINANCE: SARS Trade Data Commentary from Standard Bank Head Of Commercial Banking Karl Gotte
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“South Africa posted a trade surplus of R12 bn for December 2016 following November’s revised deficit of R-1.7 bn. The market expectations were for a swing to a surplus. This is due to exports of R93 bn and imports of R80.9 bn. The trade account’s year to date position has improved to R-2.9 bn when compared to December 2015 (Deficit of R-52.2 bn).
“The global economy faced enormous challenges in 2016 due to stagnant global trade, lower investment and increased policy uncertainty. Global growth is estimated to have slowed to 2.3% in 2016, the weakest performance since the global financial crisis. The World Bank mentions in its South Africa Economic Update that 2016 may mark the trough of South Africa’s business cycle and that a slight recovery is expected in 2017. This expectation is to be driven by rising commodity prices, increase in credit stimulating household demand as well as the lower inflationary pressures due to a more limited drought effect on food prices.”
“The South African Reserve Bank has left the repo rate unchanged at 7%, but has warned that it may hike interest rates should higher global oil prices or a hit to the rand were to cause above-target inflation rates to persist. The rand remains vulnerable to surprises from external markets. We need to look into ways that stimulate exports as we have experienced a long period of stagnation.”
“The retail conditions are expected to improve this year. Growth is expected from durable goods which are expected to grow by 1.5% year on year, with semi-durable goods expected to grow by 1% year on year. The slower economic growth by South Africa’s trading partners, lower economic growth as well as the debt squeeze on the public sector and households were highlighted as major causes for challenges within the trade sector in 2016.”
“The new year brings with it an air of positivity and hope for greater achievements. This is the perfect time to reflect on the year that has gone by and evaluate some of the lessons that were learnt along the way. New goals are outlined and strategies put forward are set out for execution throughout the year. Businesses are aiming to overcome the challenges that were faced in 2016. This is a good time for businesses to expand networks and broaden their knowledge on industry and customer information, expand the value chain and collaborate to make a bigger impact.”
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