Gold invariably represents the great majority of the country's international reserves, but decreased demand for gold lowered world prices in the 1990s, slowing financial flows. The current account balance improved at the end of 2000 due to increased merchandise export earnings, which rose by 15%. This can be attributed in part to the depreciation of the rand, which strengthened the competitiveness of South African manufactures. Petroleum imports rose that year as well.
The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2001 the purchasing power parity of South Africa's exports was $32.3 billion while imports totaled $28.1 billion resulting in a trade surplus of $4.2 billion.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reports that in 2001 South Africa had exports of goods totaling $31 million and imports totaling $26 million. The services credit totaled $4.66 billion and debit $5.21 billion. The following table summarizes South Africa's balance of payments as reported by the IMF for 2001 in millions of US dollars.
|Balance on goods||4,966|
|Balance on services||-546|
|Balance on income||-3,846|
|Direct investment abroad||-3,686|
|Direct investment in South Africa||7,162|
|Portfolio investment assets||-5,331|
|Portfolio investment liabilities||-2,971|
|Other investment assets||-1,432|
|Other investment liabilities||-614|
|Net Errors and Omissions||1,855|
|Reserves and Related Items||-2,158|