South Africa shipped an estimated US$90.2 billion worth of goods and services all over the world in 2019. The country’s major trade partners are China ,Germany, United States , United Kingdom, Netherlands , Belgium, Japan, India,  Botswana,  Mozambique,  Namibia and Zambia to name a few. With South Africa’s trade agreements with some of these countries there are a lot of export opportunities worth considering.

Gems, Precious Metals

South Africa is considered the second largest producer of gold, the world’s top producer of chrome, manganese, platinum, vanadium, and vermiculite. There is no doubt that there are plenty of export opportunities when it comes to gems, and other precious metals. Exports of these minerals have been growing at a fast rate. The country’s platinum exports alone were valued at USD $7.8 billion in 2018.

Coal, Solid Fuels

Second to gems and precious metals is coal and solid fuels made from coal. There are also opportunities to export coal from South Africa given that the country is the third largest coal exporter in the whole world. An estimated USD $6.2 billion worth of coal was exported in the year 2018. Also, 28% of the country’s coal production is exported and the rest is used in the local market. Some of the countries that buy coal from South Africa include Japan, China, and India.


Cars come in third when it comes to South African exports totalling USD $6.1 billion. In the year 2018 351 154 South African-made vehicles were sold to countries all over the world. Some of the country’s biggest brand exports are Toyota Hilux, the Volkswagen Polo, the BMW X3, the Ford Ranger and the Mercedes Benz C-Class. There are many opportunities for the production and export of cars in South Africa. The car industry is one of South Africa’s most important sectors, with many international companies sourcing components from the country and assembling vehicles for both the local and international markets.

Iron Ore And Other Metals

China is one of the major importers of South Africa’s iron ore products. South Africa is also regarded a net exporter of metals, ranked 10th in the world, to more than 100 countries.  About USD 4.2 billion worth of iron ore was exported in the year 2018. Iron ore is a key input in steel as well as the most widely used of all metals. The country’s large and developed metal industry together with its natural resources and a supportive infrastructure represents profitable opportunities in the production and export of metals. Primary steel products and semi-finished products such as billets, blooms, slabs, forgings, reinforcing bars, railway track material, wire rods, and seamless tubes and plates are exported from South Africa.

ICT and electronics industries

There are also export opportunities in the ICT and electronics industry. South Africa’s information and technology (IT) sector’s growth is above the world’s average. The country has an established and sophisticated information and communications technology (ICT) and electronics sector which currently has over 3 000 companies. In addition, South Africa is ranked as one of the leading countries in terms of total worldwide IT spending. With cutting edge technology, equipment, skills access to the rapid expansion of telecommunications and IT throughout the African continent the ICT sector presents profitable export opportunities.

Clothing And Footwear Industry

Although the textile and apparel industry is small, there are profitable production and export opportunities in the country. As a result of technological developments, local textile production has progressed into a capital-intensive industry that produces synthetic fibres in increasing proportions. The apparel sector has also experienced significant technological changes and has benefited greatly from the sophisticated transport and communications infrastructure in South Africa.  Over the years millions have been invested in the industry in order to make it efficient, internationally competitive, and grow to become a major force in the world market. Exports account for billions of rands for textiles, and the major importers are mostly the US and European markets.


The synthetic coal and natural gas-based liquid fuels and petrochemicals sector is prominent. South Africa is also recognised as a world leader in coal-based synthesis and gas-to-liquids (GTL) technologies. The production and export business opportunities in this sector cannot be understated.  The chemicals industry is one of the largest in Africa. It is highly complex, well developed and widely diversified. The end products are often composed of a combination of chemicals which have been put together in some way to provide the required properties and characteristics.

Food and Beverages

Not forgetting food and beverages; there are plenty of export opportunities when it comes to this sector. Given that this sector is one of the biggest contributors to the manufacturing sector. There is always a need for processed and preserved meat, fish, and dairy products all over the world. The country’s agriculture sector consists largely of cattle and sheep farming and the global demand for such continues to grow. There are also plenty of export opportunities when it comes to preserved and processed fruits, vegetables, and oils to name a few. Tobacco, alcohol, and non-alcoholic drinks production and export are also a lucrative business. Food and beverages are essential in general thus, you can consider manufacturing and/or exporting any one of the various food, and beverage products to meet their growing global demand.

The country’s agriculture and food sector has many competitive advantages that make it an important trading partner. South Africa’s well-developed infrastructure, counter-seasonality to Europe, and its rich biodiversity and marine resources, plus its competitive input costs make it a major player when it comes to international trade.

Electrical Machinery, Radio, Television Equipment

Electrical goods and machinery are always in high demand all over the world. Thus, there are export opportunities when it comes to such products. A business producing and/or exporting electrical equipment can be profitable. Electric lamps, lighting equipment, televisions, receivers are also exported from South Africa to neighbouring African countries mainly.  The production and export of primary cells, batteries, electronic valves, tubes, electric motors, generators, and transformers is also profitable. There are plenty of export opportunities even when it comes to radio, and television equipment. There is also a high global demand for optical instruments and photographic equipment, medical appliances, and instruments. Thus, you can explore the many export opportunities in this sub sector.