Trade Data Analysis

South Africa: Intra-Africa trade and tariff profile

South Africa: Intra-Africa trade and tariff profile

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This Trade Data Update provides an overview of South Africa’s intra-African trade relationships, both within the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and with other individual African countries; the top import and export products traded; and applicable tariffs. Data is sourced from the International Trade Centre (ITC) TradeMap database and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Tariff Database. The update is accompanied by a visual representation of key data and trends in an infographic.

Intra-Africa trade

South Africa is a member state of both the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).

In 2017, South Africa exported and imported goods to and from the rest of Africa to the value of US$23.3 billion and US$8.5 billion, respectively. Intra-Africa exports accounted for 26% of South Africa’s total exports and 10% of total imports for 2017.

  • South Africa’s main intra-Africa export products are petroleum oils, goods and passenger motor vehicles, electrical energy, chromium ores and coal. The top 10 intra-Africa export products accounts for 25% of South Africa’s total exports to other African countries.

  • Crude petroleum oils (HS2709) are by far the most important products South Africa imports from other African countries. Imports of crude oil accounts for 39% of South Africa’s total imports from the rest of Africa.

  • Other main import products are mixtures of odoriferous substances (a beverage additive), semi-manufactured gold, petroleum gas and sugar in solid form. The top 10 products South Africa imports from the rest of Africa accounts for 63% of South Africa’s total intra-Africa imports.

  • South Africa mainly trades with neighbouring countries (except for Zambia as a destination market and Nigeria and Angola as source countries).

  • In terms of South Africa’s total trade (exports + imports) with the rest of the continent; Namibia (14%), Botswana (13%), Mozambique (12%) and Swaziland (8%) are South Africa’s main African trading partners.

  • The main destination markets for South African exports are Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

  • South Africa mainly sources intra-Africa imports from Nigeria, Angola, Swaziland, Mozambique and Namibia.

Intra-Africa import tariffs

Most of the goods imported into South Africa from other SADC member states enter duty-free. The only exceptions are wheat flour, sugar, second-hand clothes and tyres. Although the applied duty for wheat flour imports from SADC is zero-rated, there are currently no SADC Rules of Origin on wheat flour. This means that all wheat flour originating in SADC and imported into South Africa is levied the MFN applied duty of 65.59c/kg. Sugar imports, raw and refined face a specific duty of 31.98c/kg, while the duty on second-hand clothes varies depending on the tariff line (20% ad valorem, 35c/unit, 50c/unit and 60% or 2500c/kg). Tyre imports under HS980100 has a 20% duty.

  • African imports from outside SACU and SADC are levied the MFN applied duty. The highest average MFN applicable duties are on clothing and apparel (between 26.3% and 41.2%), tobacco (38.1%), leather articles (26.6%) and carpets and flooring (26.6%).

  • Various products are imported free of duty, including all live animals (HS1); other base metals like Tungsten and Titanium (HS81); clocks and watches (HS91); ores, slag and ash (HS26); and fertilizers (HS31).

  • South Africa’s highest ad valorem import duties are levied on imports of prepared or preserved pineapples (55% duty), tobacco cigarettes (45%), tobacco substitute cigarettes and cigars (45%), water-pipe tobacco (45%) clothing items (40% and 45%), retreaded tyres (43%) and uncooked pasta not containing eggs (40%).

  • South Africa’s main imports from countries not in SADC (and SACU) are crude oil, light oils and preparations, frozen sardines, cocoa paste and technically specified rubber. These products are mostly imported duty-free, except for light oils and preparations, liquefied butanes, certain parts and oilcake. The MFN applied tariffs for these imports range from low (6.6% for oilcake imports) to medium (15%-20%).


South Africa: Intra-Africa trade and tariff profile | June 2018
Infographic: South Africa – Intra-Africa trade and tariff profile | June 2018

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