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Last updated : Nov 2009
South Africa Business
South Africa Business Overview - TravelPuppy.com
Gross Domestic Products: US $527.4 billion (the 2005 estimate) .

The Main imports: Plastic products, machines, chemicals and also vehicles.

The Main exports:
Mineral raw materials (diamonds, gold, platinum), agricultural produce, machinery, chemical products, electric appliances and vehicles.

The Main trade partners: China, Germany, France, Iran, Japan, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom and United States of America.


The South African economy controls the southern part of the African continent. Agriculture is strong enough to allow South Africa virtual self-sufficiency in foodstuffs, livestock is reared extensively, and maize, sugar and cereals are produced in large quantities. Specialised products such as wine and fruit are exported in huge quantities. The industrial sector has customarily been based on mining.

South Africa has considerable deposits of common minerals such as coal, but also of valuable metals and ores which are in high demand but are limited everywhere else except the Russian Federation, these include chromium, vanadium, manganese and platinum. Its most valuable minerals, however, are gold and diamonds, of which South Africa has long been both the world’s biggest producer and exporter. Gold alone accounts for 1 3rd of the country’s entire export income. The only key mineral that South Africa has little of is oil.

Recently, however, the customary dominance of agriculture and mining has been supplanted by manufacturing and service industries. Manufacturing industry is concentrated in metal based industries, generally steel and heavy engineering, with machinery and transport equipment as the main products. Manufacturing now accounts for roughly 20 % of total economic output. Some advanced technological industries have also surfaced in recent years. In the service sector, both financial services and tourism have expanded rapidly and both are now foundations of the South African economy.

The Mandela government originally committed itself to a gradual economic transition through its Reconstruction and Development Programme, whose main aim was to tackle the gross inequalities inherited from the apartheid regime. Progress was tempered, however, by the Government’s insistence on financial restraint. The Government has since designed a scheme under which major economic assets, particularly the mines, will be transferred to ‘black empowerment entities’ over a 10 year period. Inflation in 2005 was 3.1 % and annual growth was 4 %. Few inroads have been made into the high level of unemployment, officially at 26.2 % in 2004.

Possibly the greatest long term problem, especially as regards its impact on the workforce, is the extremely high level of HIV / AIDS infection in South Africa.

South Africa is the prevailing member of the local Southern African Customs Union (with Lesotho, Botswana, Namibia and Swaziland), it has also joined the Southern African Development Community and the Organisation of African Unity.


Suits are generally expected to be worn for meetings. Appointments are usually necessary and punctuality is expected. Business cards are largely used.

General office hours are Monday to Friday from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm.

Commercial Information

The following associations can offer advice:

South African Chamber of Business (SACOB)
Address: 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Gauteng, South Africa
Telephone: (11) 446 3800.
Website address: www.sacob.co.za

Department of Trade & Industry
Address: Private Bag X84, Pretoria 0001, , South Africa
Telephone: (12) 394 9500.
Website address: www.dti.gov.za

Southern African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI)
Address: PO Box 414, Kloof 3640, South Africa
Telephone: (31) 764 6977.
Website address: www.saaci.co.za

Cape Town Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Address: 19 Louis Gradner Street, Cape Town 8000, South Africa
Telephone: (21) 402 4300.
Website address: www.capechamber.co.za


There are around 815 conference venues in South Africa. The main conference venues are in Johannesburg and Pretoria, though facilities exist in all other major towns, provided mainly by hotels and universities. The Conference and Incentive Promotions Division of SATOUR exists to promote South African venues and to ensure high levels of service and facilities for conference organisers.