The Minister of Finance has approved that South Africa’s trade statistics will in future include data in respect of trade with Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland (BLNS countries).
BLNS country-trade statistics have previously not been included in the trade statistics. This arose historically because of the free flow of trade from a customs duty point of view within the Southern African Customs Union (SACU).
BLNS merchandise trade however, has a material impact on South Africa’s trade balance. South Africa exported R103.8bn to and imported R21.5bn from BLNS countries. In the last full year (2012) this resulted in a positive trade balance of R82.3bn for trade with BLNS countries.
South Africa’s total trade deficit for 2012 was R116.9bn. Had the BLNS trade data been included, the deficit would have been R34.6bn.
The view is therefore that direct trade within the BLNS countries should be included in the calculation of the monthly trade statistics to provide a more accurate reflection of South Africa’s trade.