Imports fell to ZAR 81 billion, as purchases went down for: machinery & electronics (-24 percent), equipment components (-53 percent), chemical products (-20 percent), base metals (-29 percent), textiles (-38 percent) and plastic & rubber (-30 percent). Meanwhile, mineral products imports rose 10 percent. Imports came mainly from China (16.9 percent of total imports), Germany (8.3 percent), Saudi Arabia (6.9 percent), the US (6.9 percent) and France (6.6 percent).
Exports declined to 93 billion mainly driven by lower sales of vehicles & transport equipment (-35 percent), machinery & electronics (-16 percent), precious metals & stones (-6 percent), base metals (-8 percent) and prepare foodstuff (-14 percent). By contrast, sales rose for vegetable products (+34 percent) and mineral products (+15 percent). Major destinations for exports were China (11.5 percent of total exports), Germany (6.1 percent), the US (5.4 percent), Botswana (4.5percent) and Japan (4.5 percent).
Considering full 2016, the trade deficit shrank to ZAR 2.92 billion compared to ZAR 52.18 billion in 2015, as exports went up 5.8 percent and imports grew at a much slower 1 percent.
Excluding trade with neighboring Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland, the country posted a trade gap of ZAR 3.64 billion in December. From January to December, the trade deficit was ZAR 109.72 billion, compared to a ZAR 157.9 billion gap in 2015.