About

Overview In 2021, South Africa was the number 33 economy in the world in terms of GDP (current US$), the number 34 in total exports, the number 43 in total imports, the number 104 economy in terms of GDP per capita (current US$) and the number 59 most complex economy according to the Economic Complexity Index (ECI) .

Exports The top exports of South Africa are Platinum ($24.5B), Gold ($20.1B), Iron Ore ($7.68B), Diamonds ($7.02B), and Coal Briquettes ($6.72B), exporting mostly to China ($20.6B), United States ($14B), Germany ($10.4B), United Kingdom ($10.1B), and India ($9.5B).

In 2021, South Africa was the world's biggest exporter of Platinum ($24.5B), Manganese Ore ($2.9B), Chromium Ore ($1.83B), Precious Metal Ore ($1.78B), and Titanium Ore ($501M)

Imports The top imports of South Africa are Refined Petroleum ($7.85B), Crude Petroleum ($5.42B), Motor vehicles; parts and accessories (8701 to 8705) ($3.44B), Cars ($3.25B), and Broadcasting Equipment ($2.43B), importing mostly from China ($20.5B), Germany ($8.89B), India ($6.01B), United States ($5.2B), and Saudi Arabia ($4.16B).

In 2021, South Africa was the world's biggest importer of Documents of title (bonds etc) and unused stamps ($546M) and Metallic Fabric ($3.46M)

Location South Africa borders Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Eswatini, and Zimbabwe by land.

Latest Trends

November, 2023

Historical Data

Yearly Trade

Flow
Color
Depth
Top Export (2021)Platinum$24.5B
Top Destination (2021)China$20.6B

In 2021, South Africa exported a total of $143B, making it the number 34 exporter in the world. During the last five reported years the exports of South Africa have changed by $44.6B from $98.8B in 2016 to $143B in 2021.

The most recent exports are led by Platinum ($24.5B), Gold ($20.1B), Iron Ore ($7.68B), Diamonds ($7.02B), and Coal Briquettes ($6.72B). The most common destination for the exports of South Africa are China ($20.6B), United States ($14B), Germany ($10.4B), United Kingdom ($10.1B), and India ($9.5B).

Explore Visualizations

*Disclaimer:
South Africa is part of the Southern Africa Custom Union (SACU), a custom union among five countries of Southern Africa: Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia, and South Africa. As part of SACU and given that some countries do not report particular trade with South Africa, the reported data has been gather under the Southern Africa Custom Union single entity, based on the BACI's methodology. The following visualizations shows trade data at Southern Africa Custom Union level.

Exports (2021)
[Click to Select a Product]

Destinations (2021)
[Click to Select a Country]

Market Growth

Flow
View
Fastest Growing Export Markets (2020 - 2021)
China$8.71B (+ 73.3%)
Japan$4.29B (+ 105%)
United States$3.71B (+ 36.3%)
Fastest Growing Import Markets (2020 - 2021)
China$5.68B (+ 38.4%)
India$2.39B (+ 66.3%)
Germany$1.81B (+ 25.5%)

*Disclaimer:
South Africa is part of the Southern Africa Custom Union (SACU), a custom union among five countries of Southern Africa: Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia, and South Africa. As part of SACU and given that some countries do not report particular trade with South Africa, the reported data has been gather under the Southern Africa Custom Union single entity, based on the BACI's methodology. The following visualizations shows trade data at Southern Africa Custom Union level.

Total Export Growth by Market (2020 - 2021)

Service Trade

Service Trade

South Africa Exports Services (2018)$14.5B
South Africa Imports Services (2018)$15.6B

In 2018, South Africa exported $14.5B worth of services. The top services exported by South Africa in 2018 were Travel ($8.84B), Transportation ($2.18B), Other business services ($2.1B), Computer and information services ($622M), and Government services, n.i.e. ($367M).

The top services imported by South Africa in 2018 were Transportation ($6.73B), Travel ($3.35B), Other business services ($2.08B), Royalties and license fees ($1.79B), and Computer and information services ($1.24B).

Service Exports (2018)

Service Imports (2018)

Economic Complexity

Overview

Economic Complexity (Trade)0.098Rank 59 of 131
Economic Complexity (Technology)0.93Rank 24 of 96
Economic Complexity (Research)1.23Rank 21 of 140

Most Specialized Products by RCA Index

South Africa has a high level of specialization in Chromium Ore (102), Manganese Ore (61.8), Granulated Slag (39.8), Platinum (39.7), and Niobium, Tantalum, Vanadium and Zirconium Ore (32.8). Specialization is measured using RCA, an index that takes the ratio between South Africa observed and expected exports in each product.

Most Complex Products by PCI

Export Opportunities by Relatedness

The top export opportunities for South Africa according to the relatedness index, were Raw Cotton (0.23), Crude Petroleum (0.23), Petroleum Gas (0.22), Uranium and Thorium Ore (0.21), and Other Ores (0.21). Relatedness measures the distance between a country's current exports and each product. The barchart show only products that South Africa is not specialized in.

Product Space

The product space is a network connecting products that are likely to be co-exported. The product space can be used to predict future exports, since countries are more likely to start exporting products that are related to current exports. Relatedness measures the distance between a product, and all of the products a country currently specializes in.

Relatedness Space

This network shows the products most related to the production structure of South Africa. These are products that tend to be co-exported with the products that South Africa exports. Higher relatedness values ​​indicate greater knowledge, which predicts a greater probability of exporting that product in the future.

Diversification Frontier

Filter
Depth

The Complexity-Relatedness diagram compares the risk vs strategic value of a country's potential export oppotunities. Relatedness is predictive of the probability that a country increases its exports in a product. Complexity, is associated with higher levels of income, economic growth, less income inequality, and lower greenhouse emissions.

Economic Complexity Ranking

Methodology
Scale

During the last 20 years South Africa's⁩ ⁨economy has become relatively less complex, moving from the ⁩⁨35th to the 59th⁩ position in the ECI rank.

These economic complexity rankings use 6 digit exports classified according to the HS96 classification. We consider only countries with population of at least 1 million and exports of at least $1 billion, and products with world trade over $500 million. To explore different rankings and vary these parameters visit the custom rankings section.

Explore Rankings

ECI (Trade) Ranking by Country

Have questions, comments, or concerns?
Send us an e-mail: [email protected]
Follow @OECtoday on
Created, Designed, and Developed by:
In collaboration with