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South Africa Exports

artice info

South Africa combines a developed first-world infrastructure with a vibrant emerging market economy to create huge investment potential.

The South African agricultural industry contributes around 10% of formal employment, relatively low compared to other parts of Africa, as well as providing work for casual laborers and contributing around 2.6% of GDP for the nation. Due to the aridity of the land, only 13.5% can be used for crop production, and only 3% is considered high potential land.

South Africa is rich in mineral resources and is the world's biggest exporter of platinum and chromium and the second largest exporter of manganese. Other South Africa's exports include iron ores, motor vehicles and car parts, machinery and mechanical appliances, gold, coal and diamonds. Main export partners of South Africa are China, the United States, Japan, Botswana and Germany. Others include Namibia, the Netherlands and the UK.

South Africa is the second largest producer of gold and is the world's largest producer of vanadium and vermiculite, the second largest producer of ilmenite, palladium, rutile and zirconium. It is also the world's third largest coal exporter. Although, mining only accounts for 3% of the GDP, down from around 14% in the 1980s. South Africa also has a large agricultural sector and is a net exporter of farming products.

Principal international trading partners of South Africa (besides other African countries) include Germany, the United States, China, Japan, the United Kingdom and Spain. 


South Africa Imports

artice info

South Africa has a mixed economy, the second largest in Africa. It also has a relatively high GDP per capita compared to other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

South Africa is a popular tourist destination, and a substantial amount of revenue comes from tourism. Illegal immigrants are involved in informal trading. Many immigrants to South Africa continue to live in poor conditions, and the immigration policy has become increasingly restrictive since 1994.

South Africa main imports are fuel, nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery and mechanical appliances, motor vehicles and car parts, telephone sets, vegetables and live animals and animal products. Machinery and transportation equipment make up more than one-third of the value of South African imports. Other imports of South Africa include chemicals, manufactured goods, and petroleum, gold and computers.

Principal international trading partners of South Africa include Germany, the United States, China, Japan, the United Kingdom and Spain. 

Customs requirements of South africa


South Africa Customs Contacts

Department of Trade and Industry of South Africa



Telephone: +27 (12) 394 9500


South Africa is the southernmost country in Africa, bordered by Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland, and surrounding the kingdom of Lesotho. South Africa is the 25th-largest country in the world by land area and is the world's 24th-most populous nation. The country is a member of the African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States, Group of 24, International Chamber of Commerce, International Monetary Fund, International Organization for Standardization, Southern African Customs Union, WTO and other international organizations.



All import and export commercial transactions require commodities on custom declarations to be classified according to an appropriate tariff heading. The tariff classification code is directly linked to the rate of duty payable on that commodity. Classification operates as part of the international Harmonised Commodity and Coding System, under the World Customs Organisation (WCO) Harmonised System Convention.

Tariffs and duty rates are constantly revised and are subject to change without notice. 

Non-tariff barriers

Import control is the responsibility of the Ministry of Trade and Industry. Import permits are valid from the date of issue until 31 December of that particular year. Import control will be removed on some of these goods in the future. Notice of changes will be published in the Government Gazette.

Importers must be registered with the Director, Import and Export Control and with the Commissioner, South African Revenue Services.

Foreign exchange allocation is subject to the prior approval of the Reserve Bank.

Documentary evidence of the transaction must be presented to authorised foreign exchange dealers.

Permits are required for the following:

  • consumer goods (foodstuffs, clothing, fabrics, footwear and books)
  • wood
  • paper products
  • motor and aviation fuels
  • refined petroleum products
  • specified chemicals
  • raw wool
  • specified rubber
  • minerals
  • firearms
  • gambling machines

Importation of all second-hand goods is subject to import control and an import permit is required.

The importation of used vehicles is strictly controlled and import permits are issued only in very specific and defined circumstances. An original certificate issued by the South African Bureau of Standards also needs to accompany clearance for home consumption.

The prevailing import control policy with regard to the different categories of vehicles/parts thereof, covers:

  • used motor vehicles for personal use
  • specially designed vehicles
  • used buses, trucks, taxis and coaches
  • used engines
  • used gearboxes
  • used differentials

Import quotas apply to a range of products, including:

  • meat and unprocessed primary products, including fresh produce
  • petroleum products
  • pesticides
  • selected plastic raw materials and resins
  • selected rubber items, including tyres and conveyor belts
  • paper board
  • certain apparel items
  • selected machinery items, including transformers, lathes, mechanical shovels and some agricultural equipment items
  • gold, silver and certain metal alloys