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), Motor vehicles; parts and accessories (8701 to 8705) ($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.

April, 2022

Historical Data

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Top Export (2020): Gold, $13B

Top Destination (2020): China, $14.7B

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.

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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).

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.

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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