South Africa boasts the most advanced, broad-based economy on the African continent. The investment climate is fortified by stable institutions, an independent judiciary, and a robust legal sector committed to upholding the rule of law; a free press and investigative reporting; a mature financial and services sector; good infrastructure; and experienced local partners.
In dealing with the legacy of apartheid, South African laws, policies, and reforms seek economic transformation to accelerate the participation of and opportunities for historically disadvantaged South Africans. The government views its role as the primary driver of development and aims to promote greater industrialization, often employing tariffs and other trade measures that support domestic industry while negatively impacting foreign trade partners. President Ramaphosa’s October 2020 Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan unveiled the latest domestic support target: the substitution of 20% of imported goods in 42 categories with domestic production within 5 years. Other government initiatives to accelerate transformation include labor laws to achieve proportional racial, gender, and disability representation in workplaces and prescriptive government procurement requirements such as equity stakes and employment thresholds for historically disadvantaged South Africans.
South Africa continued to fight its way back from a “lost decade” in which economic growth stagnated, hovering at zero percent pre-COVID-19, largely due to corruption and economic mismanagement. South Africa suffered a four-quarter technical recession in 2019 and 2020 with economic growth registering only 0.2 percent growth for the entire year of 2019 and contracting 7 percent in 2020. As a result, Moody’s rating agency downgraded South Africa’s sovereign debt to sub-investment grade. S&P and Fitch ratings agencies made their initial sovereign debt downgrades to sub-investment grade earlier.
As the country continues to grapple with these challenges, it implemented one of the strictest economic and social lockdown regimes in the world at a significant cost to its economy. In a 2020 survey of over 2,000 South African businesses conducted by Statistics South Africa (StatsSA), over eight percent of respondents permanently ceased trading, while over 36 percent indicated short-term layoffs. South Africa had a -7 percent rate of GDP growth for the year and the official unemployment rate in the fourth quarter of 2020 was 32.5 percent. Other challenges include: creating policy certainty; reinforcing regulatory oversight; making state-owned enterprises (SOEs) profitable rather than recipients of government money; weeding out widespread corruption; reducing violent crime; tackling labor unrest; improving basic infrastructure and government service delivery; creating more jobs while reducing the size of the state; and increasing the supply of appropriately-skilled labor.
Despite structural challenges, South Africa remains a destination conducive to U.S. investment as a comparatively low-risk location in Africa, the fastest growing consumer market in the world. Google (US) invested approximately USD 140 million and PepsiCo invested over USD 1 billion in 2020. Ford announced a USD 1.6 billion investment, including the expansion of its Gauteng province manufacturing plant in January 2021.
|TI Corruption Perceptions Index||2020||69 of 175||http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview|
|World Bank’s Doing Business Report||2019||84 of 190||http://www.doingbusiness.org/en/rankings|
|Global Innovation Index||2020||60 of 131||https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator|
|U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions)||2019||$7.8 Billion||https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/|
|World Bank GNI per capita||2019||$6,040||http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD|
13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics
|Host Country Statistical source*||USG or international statistical source||USG or International Source of Data: BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other|
|Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD)||2019||$351.10
|Foreign Direct Investment||Host Country Statistical source*||USG or international statistical source||USG or international Source of data: BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other|
|U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions)||2019||N/A||2019||$7.8 billion||BEA data available at
|Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions)||2019||N/A||2019||$4.1 billion||BEA data available at
|Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP||2019||N/A||2019||1.3%||UNCTAD data available at
* Source for Host Country Data: N/A
|Direct Investment from/in Counterpart Economy Data|
|From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Millions)|
|Inward Direct Investment||Outward Direct Investment|
|Total Inward||145,247||100%||Total Outward||214, 998||100%|
|United Kingdom||45, 366||31.3%||The Netherlands||93, 532||43.5%|
|The Netherlands||25, 615||17.6%||United Kingdom||26, 163||12.2%|
|Belgium||15, 940||10.9%||United States||15, 705||7.3%|
|Japan||8, 784||6.1%||Mauritius||11, 226||5.2%|
|United States||8,784||6.1%||Australia||7, 930||3.7%|
|“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.|
|Portfolio Investment Assets|
|Top Five Partners (Millions, current US Dollars)|
|Total||Equity Securities||Total Debt Securities|
|All Countries||149, 455||100%||All Countries||139, 515||100%||All Countries||9, 940||100%|
|United Kingdom||47, 384||32%||United Kingdom||45, 104||32%||United Kingdom||2, 280||X%|
|Ireland||21, 642||14%||Ireland||20, 614||15%||United States||1, 902||X%|
|United States||19, 735||13%||United States||17, 834||13%||Ireland||1, 028||X%|
|Luxembourg||15, 711||11%||Luxembourg||15, 140||11%||Italy||783||X%|
|The Netherlands||9, 283||6%||The Netherlands||9, 034||6%||Luxembourg||571||X%|