By Alan Peat
THE GREAT press excitement about the July trade figures (with a R2,58-billion trade surplus for the year to that date, and a 55% increase in exports in the month of July, for example) is overdoing the enthusiasm a bit, according to Ann Moore, g.m. of SAFTO (SA Foreign Trade Organisation).
This is the usual business of reading month-only statistics, she said. If you compare the January to July periods of this year and last, you find that exports have increased by 17,5% and imports by 14,3%.
Both of these are related to the devaluation of the Rand, and, with this, actually indicate a fairly static trade situatiuon for SA. On SAFTO's records, exports in the 1996 seven-month period were R67,7-billion, compared to the 1995 R57,6-bn. For imports the figures read R64,2-bn in Ô96 and R56,2-bn in Ô95.
Condemning the Customs & Excise (C&E) department's statistics because of the skew provided by adjustments is also not particularily fair, Moore added.
We do know that there is (and always has been) a problem with this procedure, she said. They do sometimes make mistakes, and some of them can be quite incredibly high.
However, a few million in figures of so many billions doesn't make the statistics worthless.