Building capacity to help Africa trade better


South Africa’s trade with Africa: 2016 update

South Africa’s trade with Africa: 2016 update
01 Feb 2017

Africa remains a key market for South Africa’s exports and there is potential for export opportunities as African countries continue to integrate further.

South Africa’s exports markets are concentrated in Southern Africa, with SADC the main market accounting for 63% share in 2015. Due to South Africa’s economic dominance in SADC, we have witnessed an increase in exports since 2008, which have, however, gradually slowed down from 2012 onwards. Exports to other RECs (excl. COMESA) have remained constant over the 2006-2015 period.

A closer look reveals that SACU members who are also members of SADC account for a 45% share. Beyond SADC, only Kenya features in the top 10 markets for South Africa’s exports.

South Africa’s exports are primarily value added manufactured products including petroleum oil (not crude), trucks and motor vehicles, diamonds, and electrical energy.

In general, imports from Africa have been on the increase, and SADC remains the main trading partner, with a noticeable increase since the launch of the SADC Free Trade Area. However, the ECOWAS region is also an important partner for South Africa’s imports, while imports from the other RECs have remained relatively constant.

While SADC (and SACU in particular) countries dominate trade, Nigeria is the largest single import source, mainly attributed by South Africa’s need for oil. Angola, another oil supplier, comes in second place.

Between 2014 and 2015, South African imports from Africa fell by more than 30%, from US$13.3 billion to US$9.2 billion. This was mainly due to the fall in global oil prices, which constitutes 50% of South African imports from Africa.

Read more in the South Africa-Africa trading relationship trade data analysis.

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