Overview In 2020 South Africa was the number 38 economy in the world in terms of GDP (current US$), the number 36 in total exports, the number 42 in total imports, the number 97 economy in terms of GDP per capita (current US$) and the number 54 most complex economy according to the Economic Complexity Index (ECI).

Exports The top exports of South Africa are Gold ($13B), Platinum ($11.9B), Coal Briquettes ($6.37B), Cars ($5.19B), and Diamonds ($4.75B), exporting mostly to China ($11.9B), United States ($10.2B), India ($7.88B), United Kingdom ($7.51B), and Germany ($6.93B).

In 2020, South Africa was the world's biggest exporter of Platinum ($11.9B), Manganese Ore ($2.59B), Chromium Ore ($1.56B), Other Precious Metal Products ($1.32B), and Titanium Ore ($569M)

Imports The top imports of South Africa are Crude Petroleum ($5.09B), Refined Petroleum ($3.51B), Vehicle Parts ($2.45B), Cars ($2.14B), and Broadcasting Equipment ($1.96B), importing mostly from China ($14.7B), Germany ($7.05B), United States ($4.2B), India ($3.58B), and Saudi Arabia ($2.75B).

In 2020, South Africa was the world's biggest importer of Metallic Fabric ($3.74M)

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

November, 2021

Historical Data

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Yearly Exports

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Top Export (2020): Gold, $13B

Top Destination (2020): China, $11.9B

In 2020, South Africa exported a total of $102B, making it the number 36 exporter in the world. During the last five reported years the exports of South Africa have changed by -$10.4B from $112B in 2015 to $102B in 2020.

The most recent exports are led by Gold ($13B), Platinum ($11.9B), Coal Briquettes ($6.37B), Cars ($5.19B), and Diamonds ($4.75B). The most common destination for the exports of South Africa are China ($11.9B), United States ($10.2B), India ($7.88B), United Kingdom ($7.51B), and Germany ($6.93B).

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*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.

Yearly Imports

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Top Import (2020): Crude Petroleum, $5.09B

Top Origin (2020): China, $14.7B

In 2020 South Africa imported $71B, making it the number 42 trade destination in the world. During the last five reported years the imports of South Africa changed by -$19.6B from $90.6B in 2015 to $71B in 2020.

The most recent imports of South Africa are led by Crude Petroleum ($5.09B), Refined Petroleum ($3.51B), Vehicle Parts ($2.45B), Cars ($2.14B), and Broadcasting Equipment ($1.96B). The most common import partners for South Africa are China ($14.7B), Germany ($7.05B), United States ($4.2B), India ($3.58B), and Saudi Arabia ($2.75B).

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*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.

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Fastest Growing Export Markets (2019 - 2020)

Fastest Growing Import Markets (2019 - 2020)

*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.

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).

Tariffs by Product

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The top product import tariffs by their MFN Ad Valorem value for South Africa are Ethyl alcohol and other spirits, denatured (199k%)and Undenatured ethyl alcohol > 80% by volume (108k%).

Click any of the products in the bar chart to see the specific Ad Valorem Duty Rates by partner country.

*The tariffs applied to imports for South Africa are:
136: Most Favoured Nation duty rate treatement
163: Preferential tariff for Argentina
173: Preferential tariff for Brazil
217: Preferential tariff for European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries
219: Preferential tariff for European Union countries (AA) Association Agreement
288: Preferential tariff for Paraguay
330: Preferential tariff for Uruguay
347: Regional Preferential tariff for SADC countries
371: Southern African Customs Union rate

Economic Complexity

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Most Specialized Products by RCA Index

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South Africa has a high level of specialization in Chromium Ore (125), Manganese Ore (69.1), Niobium, Tantalum, Vanadium and Zirconium Ore (50.2), Granulated Slag (46), and Titanium Ore (39.2). 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

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The highest complexity exports of South Africa according to the product complexity index (PCI) are Hydrides, nitrides, azides, silicides and borides (1.54), Tungsten (wolfram) and articles, waste or scrap (1.46), Nickel plates, sheets, strip and foil (1.42), Ketones and quinones, their derivatives (1.29), and Unsaturated acyclic, cyclic monocarboxylc acid, derivs (1.17). PCI measures the knowledge intensity of a product by considering the knowledge intensity of its exporters.

Export Opportunities by Relatedness

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The top export opportunities for South Africa according to the relatedness index, are Raw Cotton (0.25), Crude Petroleum (0.25), Petroleum Gas (0.25), Dried Legumes (0.24), and Pharmaceutical Animal Products (0.23). 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.

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

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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

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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

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During the last 20 years South Africa's⁩ ⁨economy has become relatively less complex, moving from the ⁩⁨29th to the 54th⁩ 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.

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