TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

South Africa: Exports to US grow as trade revives

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Source: Business Report

South Africa's exports to the US are on the rise again after falling sharply last year, according to the US International Trade Commission. In the first two months of the year the value of local exports to the US rose 18 percent, compared with the same period in 2009, to $975.5 million (R7.2 billion). See link to data here.

In the whole of last year, exports to the US fell to $5.9bn, from nearly $10bn in 2008.

The major export was in the category minerals and metals, worth $3bn last year from more than $6bn the previous year.

The sharp dip represented both a fall in commodity prices as well as a fall in US demand for commodities due to the low levels of output. Gross domestic product (GDP) in that country contracted for most of 2008/09. However US GDP rose 5.6 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, boosting demand.

Jeff Gable, the head of research at Absa Capital, said a similar trend in trade flows had been seen globally, with a recovery from a low point in the second quarter of last year.

Exports to the US from Africa as a whole rose nearly 50 percent to $7.9bn in the first two months. The biggest beneficiary of the improved trading conditions was oil producer Nigeria, with exports rising more than 170 percent to $4.1bn in the period.

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However exports from oil producer Angola fell in the period - from $1.6bn in January/February 2009 to $1.4bn in the same period this year.

An analyst who could not be named said the fall "would likely be temporary".

"There was maintenance at a couple of Angolan fields, so it is very plausible that US refineries switched to using Nigerian crudes," the analyst said.

Nigeria, Angola and South Africa exported $6.5bn worth of goods in the first two months, more than 80 percent of Africa's total US exports.

Among the smaller countries, neighbouring Botswana is a relatively big exporter, ranking eighth on the list of African exporters, with $34m worth in January/February. The bulk of the goods are clothing and textiles which benefit from arrangements negotiated under the US's African Growth and Opportunities Act, introduced in January 2001.

“ Latest AGOA Trade Data currently available on

Click here to view a sector profile of South Africa's bilateral trade with the United States, disaggregated by total exports and imports, AGOA exports and GSP exports.

Other regularly updated trade statistics on include: (click each link to view)

  • AGOA-Beneficiary Countries’ AGOA and GSP Trade Aggregates

  • AGOA Trade by Industry Sector

  • Apparel Trade under AGOA’s Wearing Apparel Provisions

  • Latest Apparel Quotas under AGOA

  • Bilateral Trade Data for all AGOA-eligible countries individually.