Trade between South Africa and Zimbabwe increased despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. File photo: Motshwari Mofokeng, ANA
Trade between South Africa and Zimbabwe increased despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. File photo: Motshwari Mofokeng, ANA

SA’s cross-border trade declined last year due to Covid-19

By Siphelele Dludla Time of article published Sep 2, 2021

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South Africa’s cross-border trade with its neighbouring countries suffered a decline in 2020 mainly due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on border closures and economic activities.

The Cross-Border Road Transport Agency (C-BRTA) on Wednesday showed that South Africa’s total exports declined by 6 percent due to the impact of Covid-19.

The C-BRTA said South Africa exported a total of 27.2 billion units of goods to the neighbouring countries by road at a value of R238 billion in 2020, from R254bn the previous year.

The amount of goods imported to South Africa from its neighbouring countries fell by 11 percent, from R46bn in 2019 to R41bn in 2020.

The C-BRTA said Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique were key trading partners on cross-border road transport operations.

Total exports to Botswana fell by 22 percent, from R95bn in 2019 to R74bn in 2020, while goods imported by South Africa declined by 35 percent, from R11.2bn to R7.3bn.

The goods that were traded in high volumes between the two countries included crude, coal, petroleum and electricity, salt, sulphur, stone and plastering material, and cellphones, electrical equipment and machinery.

The C-BRTA said trade flows between South Africa and Mozambique saw total exports falling from R56bn to R54bn, a decline of 4 percent, while imports decreased by the same margin, from R4.3bn to R4.1bn.

The main exports from South Africa to Mozambique included ores, and iron and steel.

Imports from Mozambique included crude, coal, petroleum and electricity, residues and waste from the food industries, prepared feathers, fruit and nuts.

However, trade between South Africa and Zimbabwe increased despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Total exports rose by a massive 20 percent from R54bn to R65bn due to cereals, mainly maize and fertilisers, catalytic converters, computers and mechanical appliances.

Total imports from Zimbabwe rose by 4 percent, from R5.1bn to R5.3bn, as South Africa bought a high number of sugars and sugar confectionery, residues and waste from the food industries, crude, coal, petroleum, copper, coffee, tea and spices.

C-BRTA acting chief executive Lwazi Mboyi said the understanding of trade volumes and related bottlenecks would enable them to implement appropriate interventions in corridors and border posts linking South Africa to the rest of the SADC region.

“To this end, the agency will focus on accelerated implementation of key projects aimed at improving the performance of the cross-border transport system and addressing inefficiencies affecting cross-border operations,” Mboyi said.

“We shall continue to lobby and champion harmonisation of regulatory instruments in the region in order to enhance regulatory efficiency, reduce the cost of doing business and create a sustainable operating environment for transport operators and traders.”

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