South Africa's trade account recorded a 10.3 billion rand surplus in December compared with an 8.4 billion rand surplus in November, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) said on Monday.

Exports decreased by 10.4 percent month-on-month in December while imports fell by 15.9 percent. SARS said the December surplus was buoyed by higher commodity exports, specifically iron ore, precious metals and base metals.

Ten economists surveyed by Reuters expected the trade account to register a 2.75 billion rand surplus in December.

SARS said the trade account in 2010 registered a surplus for the first time since since 2003 at 5.0 billion rand compared with a 27.3 billion rand shortfall in 2009.