Flag South Africa

Econ Complexity (2018): 0.16, Rank 59 of 137

Product Exports (2018): $115B, Rank 36 of 222

Exports Per Capita (2018): $1.99k, Rank 7 of 219

Product Imports (2018): $95.5B, Rank 37 of 221

Imports Per Capita (2018): $1.65k, Rank 7 of 219

Service Exports (2018): $14.5B, Rank 27 of 88

Service Imports (2018): $15.6B, Rank 27 of 88

GDP (2018): $368B, CURRENT US$
Rank 32 of 196

GDP growth (2008 - 2018): 28.4%, CURRENT US$
Rank 116 of 196

GDP PC (2018): $6,374, CURRENT US$
Rank 97 of 196

GDP PC GROWTH (2008 - 2018): 10.6%, CURRENT US$
Rank 120 of 196

Overview: In 2018 South Africa was the number 32 economy in the world in terms of GDP (current US$), the number 36 in total exports, the number 37 in total imports, and the number 59 most complex economy according to the Economic Complexity Index (ECI). In 2018, South Africa exported $115B and imported $95.5B, resulting in a positive trade balance of $19.6B. In 2018, South Africa's exports per capita were $1.99k and its imports per capita were $1.65k.

Trade: The top exports of South Africa are Gold ($17.9B), Diamonds ($9.38B), Platinum ($9.14B), Cars ($6.8B), and Coal Briquettes ($6.71B). The top imports of South Africa are Crude Petroleum ($11B), Refined Petroleum ($4.85B), Cars ($4.16B), Vehicle Parts ($3.33B), and Broadcasting Equipment ($2.72B).

Destinations: South Africa exports mostly to China ($18.1B), United Kingdom ($8.81B), United States ($7.92B), Germany ($7.18B), and India ($7.13B), and imports mostly from China ($17.3B), Germany ($10.3B), United States ($5.5B), Saudi Arabia ($5.45B), and India ($4.38B).

Location: South Africa borders Mozambique and Zimbabwe by land.

Latest Trends (May, 2020)

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Overview: In May 2020 South Africa exported ZAR103B and imported ZAR85.9B, resulting in a positive trade balance of ZAR16.6B. Between May 2019 and May 2020 the exports of South Africa have decreased by ZAR-4.99B (-4.64%) from ZAR108B to ZAR103B, while imports decreased by ZAR-24.3B (-22.1%) from ZAR110B to ZAR85.9B.

Trade: In May 2020 the top exports of South Africa were Platinum (ZAR12.5B), Coal Briquettes (ZAR9.25B), Gold (ZAR8.72B), Iron Ore (ZAR6.59B), and Refined Petroleum (ZAR4.57B). In May 2020 the top imports of South Africa were Crude Petroleum (ZAR6.73B), Commodities not elsewhere specified (ZAR5.1B), Other Cloth Articles (ZAR3.81B), Telephones (ZAR3.36B), and Computers (ZAR3.03B).

Origins: In May 2020 the exports of South Africa were mainly from O.R. Tambo Int Airport (ZAR18.6B), Richards Bay (ZAR16.4B), Durban (ZAR15.4B), Sa Reserwebank (ZAR8.72B), and Saldanha Bay (ZAR7.43B), while imports destinations were mainly Durban (ZAR39.4B), O.R. Tambo Int Airport (ZAR19.5B), Cape Town (ZAR9.67B), Port Elizabeth (ZAR5.52B), and Johannesburg (ZAR4.13B).

Destinations: In May 2020 South Africa exported mostly to China (ZAR12.4B), Special Categories (ZAR9.15B), United States (ZAR6.35B), Netherlands (ZAR5.2B), and United Kingdom (ZAR4.54B), and imported mostly from China (ZAR22.8B), Germany (ZAR7.14B), United States (ZAR5.58B), India (ZAR3.35B), and Japan (ZAR3.23B).

Growth: In May 2020, the decrease in South Africa's year-by-year exports was explained primarily by a decrease in exports to India (ZAR-3.48B or -60.9%), Germany (ZAR-3.35B or -44%), and United Kingdom (ZAR-2.3B or -33.6%), and product exports decrease in Cars (ZAR-4.3B or -60.9%), Delivery Trucks (ZAR-2.14B or -54.7%), and Diamonds (ZAR-1.39B or -63%). In May 2020, the decrease in South Africa's year-by-year imports was explained primarily by a decrease in imports from Nigeria (ZAR-3.01B or -59.7%), Germany (ZAR-2.88B or -28.7%), and United States (ZAR-2.49B or -30.8%), and product imports decrease in Crude Petroleum (ZAR-4.94B or -42.3%), Refined Petroleum (ZAR-4.18B or -67.5%), and Commodities not elsewhere specified (ZAR-4.15B or -44.9%).

Flow
Value
Depth

EXPORT GROWTH (May 2019 - May 2020): ZAR-4.99B, (-4.64%)

IMPORT GROWTH (May 2019 - May 2020): ZAR-24.3B, (-22.1%)

MAIN EXPORTER (May 2020): O.R. Tambo Int Airport, ZAR18.6B

MAIN DESTINATION (May 2020): China, ZAR12.4B

This section shows exports and imports data at subnational level for South Africa. Click any date in the line plot, any subnational region in the geomap, or any product, destination or origin country to explore the exports or imports behavior of South Africa over time.

Comparison in Time

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This section shows the differences between South Africa's total subnational aggregate trade throughout time. To explore different subnational trade comparisons in time, visit South Africa's subnational profiles.

Explore South Africa's Subnational Data

Product Exports

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Depth

Top Export (2018): Gold, $17.9B

Top Destination (2018): China, $18.1B

In 2018 South Africa exported a total of $115B, making it the number 36 exporter in the world. During the last five reported years the exports of South Africa have changed by $4.31B from $111B in 2013 to $115B in 2018.

The most recent exports are led by Gold ($17.9B), Diamonds ($9.38B), Platinum ($9.14B), Cars ($6.8B), and Coal Briquettes ($6.71B). The most common destination for the exports of South Africa are China ($18.1B), United Kingdom ($8.81B), United States ($7.92B), Germany ($7.18B), and India ($7.13B).

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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.

Product Imports

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Depth

Top Import (2018): Crude Petroleum, $11B

Top Origin (2018): China, $17.3B

In 2018 South Africa imported $95.5B, making it the number 37 trade destination in the world. During the last five reported years the imports of South Africa changed by -$15.5B from $111B in 2013 to $95.5B in 2018.

The most recent imports of South Africa are led by Crude Petroleum ($11B), Refined Petroleum ($4.85B), Cars ($4.16B), Vehicle Parts ($3.33B), and Broadcasting Equipment ($2.72B). The most common import partners for South Africa are China ($17.3B), Germany ($10.3B), United States ($5.5B), Saudi Arabia ($5.45B), and India ($4.38B).

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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.

Flow

Fastest Growing Export Markets (2017 - 2018)

Fastest Growing Import Markets (2017 - 2018)

*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).

Trade Forecasts

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This section shows forecasts for total product exports and imports for South Africa. The forecast is based in a long short-term memory model or LSTM constructed using yearly trade data.

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Tariffs by Product

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The top product import tariffs by their MFN Ad Valorem value for South Africa are Pineapples, otherwise prepared or preserved (55%) and Pineapples, otherwise prepared or preserved (49.5%).

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

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*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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Economic Complexity Ranking

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Scale

During the last 20 years South Africa's⁩ ⁨economy has become relatively less complex, moving from the ⁩⁨37th 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.

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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 (100), Manganese Ore (70.1), Uranium and Thorium Ore (59.2), Granulated Slag (48.9), and Platinum (45.5). 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 (1.39), Ketones and quinones, their derivatives (1.33), Phenols and phenol-alcohols (1.31), Tungsten (wolfram) and articles, waste or scrap (1.19), and Artificial, graphite and preparations (1.18). 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 Crude Petroleum (0.26), Other Ores (0.25), Petroleum Gas (0.24), Raw Cotton (0.23), and Nickel Mattes (0.22). 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 it is currently specialized in.

Diversification Frontier

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Depth

The Complexity-Relatedness diagram compares the risk and the strategic value of a country's potential export oppotunities. Relatedness is a 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 emissions.