Johannesburg - South Africa's trade deficit widened sharply in September on a big fall in the export of metals and other mining products, the SA Revenue Service (Sars) said.
Amid rolling mine strikes, exports of base metals slumped nine percent and mineral exports fell by four percent, to push outgoing trade down by a total of 7.7%.
Trade statistics for the month of September released by Sars on Wednesday showed a trade deficit of R13.8bn.
Sars reported that in September exports stood at R56.7bn and imports at R70.5bn, which resulted in the deficit.
Sars said the cumulative deficit for the year to date was R86.1bn compared to R5.8bn in 2011.
Isaac Matshego, economist at Nedbank, said the low economic growth would remain in the coming months.
"South Africa's trade performance will remain weak in the coming months on the back of unfavourable global conditions and domestic supply disruptions in the mining and manufacturing sectors.
"The current account deficit will widen to around six percent this year from 3.3% in 2011," he said.
Matshego said weak global economic conditions would continue to influence exports and growth domestically.
In September exports of base metals and related articles decreased by R709m (9%).
Machinery and electrical appliances exports decreased by R884m (15%) and vegetable products decreased by R967m (30%).
However, importing of vehicles, aircraft, and vessels increased by 13%.
Sars said the 4.2% month-to-month decrease in imports was mainly due to a decrease in mineral products (2%), machinery and electrical appliances (4%) and products of the chemical or allied industries, which decreased by R935m (13%).