SA current account gap widens more than forecast

Connie Queline

SA current account gap widens more than forecast

South Africa’s current-account deficit widened more than expected in the fourth quarter of 2023, as dividend and interest payments to foreign investors resulted in the biggest outflow since the second quarter of 2022.

The overall balance on the current account, the broadest measure of trade in goods and services, expanded to an annualised deficit of 2.3% of gross domestic product, or R166 billion ($8.8 billion), from a revised 0.5% of GDP in the prior quarter, the South African Reserve Bank said in a statement on Thursday.

The median estimate of eight economists in a Bloomberg survey was for a shortfall of 1.2% of GDP.

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South Africa has now posted a current-account gap for a seventh straight quarter.

The deficit meant the full-year shortfall was 1.6% of GDP, the deepest in four years.

The deeper-than-expected quarterly deficit was largely driven by a bigger shortfall on the services, income and current transfer account of R253.7 billion in the fourth quarter, compared R215.4 billion in the prior three months.

The main contributor to the increased shortfall was a larger deficit on the primary income account “mainly be attributed to higher dividend payments by companies across the board,” the central bank said.

The data may weigh on the rand, which is among the worst performing emerging-market currencies tracked by Bloomberg this year. It has deprecated 2.7% against the dollar.

© 2024 Bloomberg

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