The volume of merchandise exports contracted by 0,4% in the first quarter of 2012, largely due to relatively weaker global demand and domestic supply constraints, the SA Reserve Bank’s Quarterly Bulletin (QB) showed on Thursday.
The bulletin noted that the slowdown in industrial production in some of SA’s key export markets dampened the demand for especially SA produced mining commodities.
Merchandise exports declined to R697,7bn at a seasonally adjusted annualised rate from R714,8bn in the fourth quarter of 2011.
The volume of merchandise imports rose by 0.8% in the first quarter. The value of merchandise imports advanced only 0,3%, following an exceptionally strong increase in all major import categories in the quarter before, the bulletin reported.
According to the QB, the increase involved the category for non-oil imports since imports of crude oil decreased.
As a ratio of gross domestic expenditure, the volume of merchandise imports remained unchanged at 24,7% in the first quarter.
On gold, the volume of net gold exports contracted further by two percent in the first quarter. Long-term structural factors constraining gold production and a drawn-out strike by Indian jewellery manufacturers were identified as factors that negatively affected the gold market.
The revenue of gold producers shrank by 6,8% in the quarter.
Proceeds from net gold exports fell to R79,3bn in the first quarter from the R85bn realised in the fourth quarter of 2011.