South Africa’s current account deficit widens sharply in fourth quarter

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JOHANNESBURG,- South Africa’s current account deficit widened sharply in the fourth quarter of 2023 to 2.3% of gross domestic product (GDP) from a revised 0.5% of GDP in the third quarter, central bank data showed on Thursday.

The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) said the current account deficit was 1.6% of GDP for 2023. The National Treasury had estimated the deficit at 1.8% of GDP.
In rand terms, the current account deficit widened to 165.5 billion rand ($8.78 billion) in the October-December period, from a revised 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, while the annual trade surplus more than halved in 2023, to 1.5% of GDP from 3.4% in 2022.

The SARB said the fourth-quarter trade surplus narrowed because the value of imports grew more than that of exports.

Imports that rose in value included crude oil and refined petroleum products. Exports of fruit and manufacturing products increased but exports of pearls, precious and semi-precious stones declined.

South Africa’s economy grew by just 0.6% in 2023, weighed down by inefficiencies at state power and logistics companies Eskom and Transnet.

The rand depreciated more than 7% against the dollar over 2023, making imports more expensive.

Source: Reuters