South Africa - Country Commercial Guide
Trade Agreements

Describes bilateral and multilateral trade agreements that this country is party to, including with the United States. Includes websites and other resources where U.S. companies can get more information on how to take advantage of these agreements.

Last published date: 2020-10-01

There is duty-free trade between South Africa and the other four countries (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, and eSwatini) that comprise the Southern African Customs Union (SACU). The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Free Trade Agreement, as of 2012, allows duty-free trade among 12 of the 15 members. The European Union-South African Trade and Development Cooperation Agreement that came into effect in 2000, has as a progressive Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that has become the cornerstone of the regional trading landscape. South Africa has also negotiated agreements with the European Free Trade Association and Mercosur.  South Africa, through SADC, has finalized negotiations on Phase I of the Tripartite Free Trade Agreement, which link SADC, the East Africa Community (EAC) and the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) into a free trade area. 

The South African Reserve Bank approves currency exchanges.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is empowered to regulate, prohibit or ration imports to South Africa in the national interests, but most goods may be imported into South Africa without any restrictions.

As a matter of government policy, the South African Government is aiming to open its market further to increase trade and to develop more competitive domestic industries.  However, in 2006, the South African Government made exceptions to this approach to protect the labor-intensive garment industry. During the course of 2020, the South African authorities enacted emergency measure to restrict all movement of goods and persons due to the Covid-19 pandemic; these have since been partially lifted.