The propensity to import has been on the increase across all African regions, with all the regions registering double digit growth rates over the past ten years. China has emerged to become Africa’s largest trading partner over the decade.
There has also been a slow and steady rise in South Africa’s exports to the rest of the African continent, with the latter accounting for approximately 15% of South Africa’s total export basket in 2012. Due to its proximity and the SADC FTA, Southern Africa was the largest destination of South Africa’s exports. South Africa continued to trades less with Central and North African regions, although exports to both these regions have been on the rise over the past decade. West and East Africa are also steadily growing market for South African goods and services.
There is a high proportion of value-added SA exports to the rest of Africa, with transport equipment, machinery, mechanical appliances, iron and steel articles, chemicals, mineral fuels, food and beverages, and clothing and textiles goods accounting for approximately 90% of South Africa’s total exports. This is an important consideration, as it ties in with South Africa’s domestic economic structure, based traditionally on mining, agriculture, engineering and chemical products, and their allied industries.