Overview on the Africa - South Africa Trade Relationship-randburg-pretoria-capetown-durban-2023


In 2020, South Africa’s world’s exports were 23% and imports were 11% within the African continent. There was a 17% decline in South Africa’s exports to other African countries and a 27% decline in imports from other African countries to South Africa, between 2019 and 2020. South Africa’s intra-Africa imports added up to US$7.4 billion and exports to US$19.9 billion in the year 2020. South Africa mainly trades with the SADC (Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe) and the SACU (South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini and Namibia) and Nigeria as well. This article will focus on the trade relationships that South Africa has with other African countries.

South Africa: Intra-Africa trade

Intra-Africa exports

In 2020, South Africa’s exports to other African countries were 23%. It exported mainly to SADC and SACU countries. The Intra-Africa exports added up to US$19.9 billion. They mainly exported petroleum oils (5% of Intra-Africa exports), goods vehicles (4% of Intra-Africa exports), electrical energy (3% of Intra-Africa exports), iron ores and concentrates (2% of Intra-Africa exports) and chromium ores and concentrates (2% OF Intra-Africa exports). The main destinations for Intra-Africa exports are Botswana with 17% of Intra-Africa exports, Mozambique at 16% of Intra-Africa exports, Namibia at 13% of Intra-Africa exports, followed by Zimbabwe at 11% of Intra-Africa exports and lastly Zambia at 9% of Intra-Africa exports.

Intra-Africa imports

Overview on the Africa - South Africa Trade Relationship-sandton-capetown-pretoria-2023-202411% of South Africa’s world imports were from within the African continent, in 2020. The Intra-Africa imports were mainly from the SACU and SADC countries and also from Ghana and Nigeria. During 2019 and 2020 there was a 27% decrease in Intra-Africa imports to South Africa. The main import product is crude petroleum oil, which amounts to 37% of Intra-Africa imports, followed by semi-manufactured gold with 6% of Intra-Africa imports, food/beverage additives is the next Intra-Africa import at 4%, next is unused postage at 4% of Intra-Africa imports, then comes sugar and solid form with 3% Intra-Africa imports and other at 46% Intra-Africa imports.

Trade with African countries outside the SADC and SACU

South Africa’s Intra-Africa Exports to countries which are not member states of the SADC and SACU was 12% in 2020. It exported mainly goods vehicle (8%), polypropylene (5%), bituminous coal (5%), fresh apples (4%) and iron/steel structures and parts (4%). All these products amount to 26% of South Africa’s exports to other African countries other than the SADC and SACU. While South African Intra-African imports from other African countries other than the SADC and SACU were 41% in total. 

The main imports from African countries outside the SADC and SACU to South Africa are crude petroleum oil which is imported from Nigeria and Ghana, frozen sardines, cocoa paste and light oils are also some of the products imported from African countries outside the SADC and SACU, all these products amount to 88% of imported goods from African states outside the SADC and SACU. These are the main African countries which are not member states of the SADC and SACU, which import to South Africa: Nigeria (72%), Ghana (16%), Egypt (2%), Morocco (2%) and Ivory Coast (2%).

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Overview on the Africa - South Africa trade relationship
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Overview on the Africa - South Africa trade relationship
South Africa's exports to the rest of the world in 2020 were 23%, while imports into Africa were 11%. Between 2019 and 2020, South Africa's exports to other African nations decreased by 17%, and imports from those nations to South Africa decreased by 27%. In the year 2020, South Africa's exports and imports within Africa totaled US$19.9 billion and US$7.4 billion, respectively.
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