South Africa - Country Commercial Guide
Market Opportunities

Overview of best prospect sectors, major infrastructure projects, significant government procurements and business opportunities.

Last published date: 2020-10-01

As the most advanced and broad-based economy on the continent, South Africa still offers exporters and investors a diverse and mature economy with proven financial and other service sectors, as well as preferential access to export markets in the European Union, and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Commercial standards are generally comparable to those in most developed economies; U.S. investors find local courts fair and consistent, and institutions are well developed. Similarly, democratic life is well established with transparent and contested elections; an appreciation for the rule of law; a free, vibrant, and outspoken press; and citizens maintaining significant pride in the constitution and the peaceful formation of the post-apartheid state.

Despite political and accelerating socio-economic uncertainties, South Africa is still a destination largely conducive to U.S. investment, and should remain so as the dynamic business community is highly market-oriented and the driver of economic growth. South Africa offers ample opportunities and continues to attract investors seeking a location to access the rest of the African continent. The burgeoning fiscal constraints of the South African Government may now make it more amenable to Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) in order to ensure continued service delivery. The IMF approved a $4.3 billion loan to South Africa that may lead to business-friendly market reforms and tighter government spending controls.

Several factors benefit U.S. exporters:

  • sophisticated financial, legal, and business services sectors;
  • extensive transportation infrastructure;
  • South Africa’s position as an entryway to other countries and markets in Sub- Saharan Africa;
  • the strong reputation enjoyed by U.S.-branded goods; and
  • the presence of strong, capable South African companies that can serve as good partners for trade and investment.

In general, the best prospects for exports are in capital goods, though opportunities exist in a wide range of consumer products, services, and franchising.