South Africa International Statistics - South Africa Bill of Lading Data

tendata blogTrade Data

ten data blog07-11-2023

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In 2022, the Republic of South Africa imported $111.3 billion worth of goods from around the world. Compared to $93.6 billion in 2021, imports increased by 18.9%.

South Africa's most valuable imports in 2022 include processed petroleum, automobiles, crude oil, telephone equipment including smartphones, and computers. These key imports account for 29.6% of South Africa's total import spending in 2022.

South Africa's best international trade suppliers

The latest country-specific data shows that South Africa's imports are mainly supplied by exporters from the following countries: mainland China (35.6% of South Africa's global total), India (7.5%), Germany (5.2%), the United States U.S.A. (5.1%), Saudi Arabia (4%), UAE (2.8%), Thailand (2.7%), Japan (2.2%), Oman (2.2%), Italy (1.8%), Nigeria (1.7%) ) and France (1.3%).

South Africa's top 10 imports

1. Mineral fuels including oil: $25.3 billion (22.7% of total imports)

2. Machinery including computers: $12.5 billion (11.2%)

3. Electrical machinery and equipment: $10.4 billion (9.3%)

4. Vehicles: $8.3 billion (7.5%)

5. Plastics, plastic products: $3.2 billion (2.9%)

6. Pharmaceuticals: $2.5 billion (2.3%)

7. Optical, technical, medical equipment: $2.3 billion (2.1%)

8. Other chemicals: $2.2 billion (2.0%)

9. Inorganic chemicals: $2.03 billion (1.8%)

10. books, newspapers, pictures: $2.01 billion (1.8%)

South Africa's top 10 imports are close to two-thirds (63.6%) of the total value of products it purchases from other countries.

The fastest-growing South African import categories from 2021 to 2022 are mineral fuels, including petroleum (up 63.4%), vehicles (up 31%), inorganic chemicals (up 26.7%), followed by electrical machinery and equipment (up 20.5%).

The only decline in South Africa's most valuable imports was pharmaceuticals, which fell by -17.5% from 2021.


The Republic of South Africa, the southernmost country on the African continent, exported $123.4 billion worth of products to the world in 2022. Compared to the previous year, the total value of South Africa's exports decreased by -0.3% from $123.7 billion in 2021.

South Africa's largest exports by value in 2022 were platinum, coal, iron, automobiles and gold. South Africa ranks first in platinum exports, is one of the world's leading exporters of iron, and is a major competitor in the international market for coal sales.

South Africa's best international trade customers

The latest country-specific data shows that South Africa's exports are mainly purchased by importers in mainland China (9.7% of South Africa's global total), the USA (8.8%), Germany (8.1%), Japan (7%), the UK (5.1%), the Netherlands (4.8%), Mozambique (4.7%), India (4.2%), Botswana (3.8%), Belgium ( 3.2%), Namibia (2.8%) and Zimbabwe (2.6%).

South Africa's top 10 exports

1. gemstones, precious metals: $26.9 billion (21.8% of total exports)

2. fossil fuels including oil: $16.9 billion (13.7%)

3. ores, slag, ash: $16.4 billion (13.3%)

4. Vehicles: $11.1 billion (9%)

5. Iron and steel: $6.7 billion (5.4%)

6. machinery including computers: $6.6 billion (5.4%)

7. Fruits, nuts: $4.4 billion (3.6%)

8. Aluminum: $2 billion (1.6%)

9. motors, equipment: $1.87 billion (1.5%)

10. inorganic chemicals: $1.86 billion (1.5%)

South Africa's top 10 exports exceeded three-quarters (76.8%) of its total global exports.

Mineral fuels, including petroleum, are the fastest growing of the top ten export categories, growing by 64.0% from 2021 to 2022. The second highest improvement in export sales is for inorganic chemicals: up 38.3%. South Africa had the third highest increase in shipments of electrical machinery and equipment, up 10.1% year-on-year.

The largest decline in South Africa's top ten export categories was Gems and Precious Metals, down -22.8%. This product category was dragged down by a decline in South Africa's gold and platinum export revenues.

Please note that the results listed above are at the two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level of the classification. For a more detailed view of exports at the four-digit HTS code level, see the Searchable List of South Africa's Most Valuable Exports section near the bottom of this article.

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