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Modelling export growth in South Africa with a focus on third-country effects and stock market liquidity.

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After considering the potential benefits of exports in ameliorating lacklustre economic growth, this thesis analyses South Africa’s exports to the world and to its trading partners. It notes that gaps in erstwhile studies on export behaviour were attributable to linear modelling, overlooking the role of the financial economy, and an overreliance on exchange rate volatility as an explanatory variable, which in part, resulted in the exchange disconnect puzzle. The gaps are addressed by employing non-linear models, consideration of financial economic variables, and third-country effects which collectively addressed the summary objective of establishing the existence of shortrun and long-run linear and asymmetric relationships of South Africa’s exports with real and financial economic variables. A unique exports dataset obtained from the South African Revenue Services (SARS), is used to undertake multivariate time-series and cross-sectional analysis beginning with the linear autoregressive distributed lag model (ARDL) and the pooled mean group (PMG) before progressing to consider non-linearity with the non-linear ARDL (NARDL), the quantile ARDL (QARDL), the Markov-switching model, the threshold autoregressive (TAR) model and the panel threshold model. The analysis is conducted in cognisance with the endogenous growth theory and the finance-led growth hypothesis which propose an interdependence between the real and financial economies. This thesis finds that stock market illiquidity and volatility possess both a linear and asymmetric negative relationship with exports in the short-run and long-run. Further, exports were consistently weaker at higher thresholds of the financial economic variables. Exchange rate relationships and third-country effects are not consistently significant; confirming the exchange disconnect puzzle. This thesis concludes that non-linear models and the financial economy must be considered when analysing South African export demand because they provide a nuanced analysis of export behaviour. The findings imply that future research in the subject area must consider the financial economy. In addition, policy makers should incentivise ease of capital flows to export growth projects because investors react to changing risk and liquidity costs induced by diminishing exports. This thesis recommends the accommodation of financial market stability and liquidity within the scope of South Africa’s trade policy to attain sustained exports contribution towards economic growth.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.