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South Africa ag exports increase 6% to $8.6 billion

Although the 2015-16 season was largely dominated by negative news associated with El Niño-induced drought, there was also some good news, thanks to trade. The South African agricultural sector recorded a positive trade balance of US$2.3 billion in 2016, despite experiencing the worst drought in more than a decade.

A closer look at the trade statistics shows that this positive trade balance was underpinned by notable growth in exports of edible fruits, beverages, spirits and vegetables, with the total agricultural export value amounting to US$8.6 billion, a 6 percent increase from 2015. Worth noting is that these products are mainly grown in the Western Cape province, which was not as severely affected by the 2016 drought as the rest of the country.

Africa remained South Africa's largest market, accounting for 44 percent of agricultural exports -– which is 9 percent below the five-year average share. The EU accounted for 26 percent of South Africa's agricultural exports in 2016, with Asia taking up 22 percent, the Americas and the rest of the world [ROW] accounted for 5 percent and 3 percent, respectively.

South Africa's agricultural exports to Asia increased by 13 percent, from US$1.66 billion in 2015 to US$1.87 billion in 2016. Driving the country's exports to Asia was an uptick in edible fruits, wool, beverages, nuts and meat exports, amongst other products.

Imports also increased by 26 percent year-on-year, reaching US$6.3 billion.  

Given the recovery in agricultural production this year, the South African agricultural trade balance is likely to remain positive again in 2017. 

Publication date: 9/19/2017


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