The South Africa UK trade relations have been vibrant for centuries. With our history as a British colony and the current ease of doing business due to language, time zone, similar legal system, and our world class banking infrastructure, South Africa remains the UK’s largest trading partner in Africa.

To strengthen this relationship, Accelerate Cape Town hosted Baroness Scotland, David Cameron’s Trade Envoy to Africa and Judith Macgregor, the British High Commissioner together with UK education institutions on 7 May 2013 at  Webber Wentzel. This CEO Forum focused on the strength and value of the SA/UK relationship, potential trade and investment opportunities and allowed business to explore this better.

To highlight the key points of the SA/UK trade relationship:

  • South Africa is the UK’s largest trading partner in Africa, and provides a trade surplus for South Africa i.e. we export more than we import from the UK.
  • South Africa is the UK’s 27th largest export market, and the UK’s 36th market for imports. SA is now behind Brazil and Nigeria, both of whom export oil and gas related products to the UK.
  • The UK is one of the largest sources of foreign direct investment to South Africa.  From 2003 to April 2013, a total of 194 FDI projects from the UK were recorded amounting to a total capital investment of ZAR96.77bn. During the period, a total of 32,271 jobs were created.
  • From 2003 to April 2013, a total of 42 FDI projects were recorded from South Africa, representing a total capital investment of ZAR9.31bn and 3,126 jobs were created.
  • Top exports to the UK from South Africa in 2012 included platinum (R9 836m) and diamonds (R2 061m), while from the Western Cape, it’s wines (R1 103m) and fresh fruit such as apples, pears, grapes and citrus fruit (R2062m)
  • Top imports from the UK to South Africa in 2012 included motor vehicles (R4 575m) and liqueur/spirits (R1 959m) with 85% of this going to the Western Cape. Other imports include Oils petroleum, bituminous, distillates, except crude (R1 027.3m)

Top 5 companies from the UK investing in SA (2003 – June 2013):

  • Anglo American (R19 114m)
  • Vodacom (R10 528m)
  • Holiday Inn (R2 988m)
  • British Petroleum (R1 993m)
  • Unilever (R1 757m).

Top 5 companies from the SA investing in UK (2003 – June 2013):

  • Investec (R537.3m)
  • Logicalis (R446.4m)
  • FirstRand (R303.4m)
  • Element Six (R267m)
  • Eskom (R246.3m).

 For more information, please see Wesgro UK Factsheet.