Blog : 8 May 2017 (South Africa's imports and exports for the first quarter of 2017)
In today's blog we take a look at South Africa's imports and exports for the first quarter of 2017 (January to March 2017) per product type. The idea being to show readers what type of products South Africa imports and exports into and out of the country.
What's leaving and entering the country?
The graphic below shows what type of products are leaving and entering our borders for the first quarter of 2017 per product type.
As can be seen from the graphic above the majority of South Africa's trade with the rest of the world seems to be clustered around a few specific product types, as they make up the bulk of the value of South Africa's exports and imports. The HS coding system breaks items down in various chapters. Large exports for South Africa is shown in Chapter 26 -Ores. This refers to items such as Nickel, Zinc and Copper leaving South Africa's borders. Then there is massive imports by South Africa of Chapter 27, which is crude oil/petroleum. Then again a large export grouping for South Africa around chapter 71, which includes Gold, Platinum and other precious metals. South Africa also has large exports of Chapter 72, which is Iron and steel products.
South Africa imports a lot of items under Chapter 84, which is catalytic converters, computers and mechanical instruments. Chapter 85 is another large import category for South Africa, this chapter covers Cellphones, electrical equipment and machinery. SA is a large exporter of Chapter 87, which is vehicles. South Africa builds a large number of vehicles for Mercedes-Benz, VW and BMW which it then exports. But as we export a lot of vehicles, we import a large number of parts to build these vehicles. These parts imported is reflected in the large amount of imports in Chapter 98, which is vehicle components. Next up we will take a look at the Top 20 product groups/chapters that South Africa has a trade surplus in (after which we will take a look at the Top 20 product groups/chapters South Africa had a trade deficit in for the first quarter of 2017.
As mentioned earlier South Africa does export large amounts of Chapter 26, 71 and 72 and this shows with South Africa having significant trade surpluses (a surplus is where South Africa's exports of a product group/chapter is more than if it's imports of the same product group or chapter) when it comes to Ores, Precious metals and diamonds and Iron and Steel. The bar chart below takes a look at the Top 20 product groups in which South Africa has a trade deficit (we are importing more of the product group/chapter than what we are exporting).
Again no real surprises in terms of the deficits shown in the bar chart above. As mentioned earlier South Africa is a large importer of vehicle components it needs to manufacture vehicles for BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen. And since South Africa does not have access to crude oil reserves and SA needs fuel, South Africa is net importers of Chapter 27, which is crude oil. Readers might wonder why Chapter 27 does not show the biggest deficit out of all the product groups. This is due to the fact that South Africa exports large amounts of Coal, which falls under Chapter 27, thus our exports of coal slightly offsets the deficit shown for Chapter 27.
Next we will take a look at the top 10 export destinations and top 10 import destinations. Essentially where is the bulk of items South Africa exporting going to and where is the stuff we are importing coming from? The charts below will give the answers to these two questions.
Where did SA exports for Q1:2017 go?
Surprising in this pie chart is the fact that for almost 4% of the goods exported it is reported that the final destination is not known. Perhaps customs doesn't care as no duties are levied on exported goods, and all they are concerned about looking at is goods coming into the country? China is the major market for SA's exports. Large amounts of coal and ores heading towards China from South Africa. Vehicles manufactured here are exported to Germany, the UK and the USA (South Africa manufactures Mercedes-Benz) that are exported to US shores. China made up 9.88% of SA's total exports for the first quarter of 2017, with Germany sitting at 8.07% and the United States with 6.62% of SA's total exports.
Where did SA imports for Q1:2017 come from?
The pie chart below shows the top 10 countries from which South Africa imported products. Again as with the previous pie chart, the label and values at the bottom of the pie chart represents the country and the contribution this country made to total imports into South Africa (instead of total exports as per the previous pie chart) for the quarter while the percentage values on the actual pie chart represents that country's contribution to the total of the top 10 countries. So China contributed 17.41% to total imports into South Africa. But China makes up 28.52% of the total imports of the top 10 import destinations for South Africa. Germany contributed 12.34% of SA's total imports for quarter 1 of 2017, and the United States 6.46%. The same top 3 export destinations are SA's top 3 import destinations. China, Germany and USA are therefore SA's most importing trading partners so far in 2017.
Saudi Arabia and Nigeria makes the cut for the top 10 imports countries as they South Africa's main suppliers of crude oil. And cars and large machineray and equipment come from Japan, Italy, USA, Germany etc.