South Africa Country profile

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South Africa is Australia’s 28th largest trading partner. Total goods and services trade amounted to $3.8 billion in 2018, making up 0.5% of the total. Total trade grew 4% per annum over the five years to 2018. Australia exported $2.1 billion of goods and services in 2018. Australia’s main exports to South Africa include aluminium and coal.  

South Africa is the largest producer of platinum and second largest producer of palladium, after Russia; both metals are used in catalytic converters. The country also produces significant amounts of gold and diamonds. As a large global exporter, South Africa is exposed to slowing global trade.

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South African tourist arrivals to Australia are small, accounting for less than 1% of all arrivals in 2018. South African student enrolments in Australia are very low, but are trending higher.

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Bilateral investment between South Africa and Australia is broadly in line with trade relations. Australian investment in South Africa is centred on mining. Rio Tinto extracts titanium dioxide and produces pig iron. BHP Billiton mines aluminium and coal. The rise in Australian mining companies operating in South Africa drove substantial growth in Australian investment in South Africa in 2017, particularly with Ramaphosa’s emphasis on boosting foreign investment into the country. Australia is the biggest international miner on the African continent, with a total investment of some $40 billion according to the Australia-Africa Minerals and Energy Group.

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