July 2018

China remains South Africa’s biggest merchandise country trading partner, with imports and exports valued at R318.5 billion in 2017. In Africa, Namibia is South Africa’s chief merchandise trading partner, with trade totalling R58.8 billion. The European Union (EU) is South Africa’s biggest regional trade partner, with imports and exports totalling R603.3 billion.

South Africa’s trade balance favours BRICS counterparts Brazil and China, while in the case of India the trade balance favours South Africa. In Africa, South Africa is generally at an advantage, and has trade deficits only with Angola and Nigeria. A notable feature is that while South Africa records a significant deficit with China, the opposite is true of the country’s trade figures recorded with the United States and the United Kingdom.

This Fast Facts essentially exposes a lack of domestic economic competitiveness, and much of the solution rests in policy certainty, respect for property rights, labour market reforms and better-quality schooling.

The Fast Stats pages, with financial and other statistics, are included.

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