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flag South Africa South Africa: Selling and Buying

In this page: Market Access Procedures | Reaching the Consumers | Distributing a Product | Organizing Goods Transport | Identifying a Supplier


Market Access Procedures

International Conventions
Member of World Trade Organisation
Party to the Kyoto Protocol
Party to the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
Party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
Party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer
Party to the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls For Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies
Main International Economic Cooperation
South Africa is a member of Southern African Customs Union (SACU).

South Africa is a member of Southern African Development Community (SADC).

South Africa has also signed some bilateral and multilateral commercial agreements.

Non Tariff Barriers
Import licenses are required for a certain number of products (refer to Schedule 1 of the Import Control Regulations Act). These licenses are delivered by the following authorities (as per the nature of the product): Department of Agriculture, Department of Water Affairs, Department of Sea and Fisheries, Department of Trade and Industry, Energy affairs and Department of Health.
Some products are subject to specific controls (caution: the list given below is not exhaustive):
- A phytosanitary certificate is required for vegetables and related products. It is delivered by the Ministry of Agriculture from the country of origin.
- A veterinarian certificate is required for the import of living animals and fresh, deep-frozen or canned meat.
- A certificate of disinfection is necessary for the import of woolen products, cotton, clothes, etc.
- A certificate of inspection by a recognized institute is required only for exporters who export for the first time in South Africa, it is not required when a good business relationship is established.
- A quality certificate may be asked for fruits and vegetables.
- A Phytosanitary certificates are required for animal products such as bacon, hides, skin and even honey. These documents are issued by the Department of Agriculture.
Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports
5.8%. The WTO gives a sheet summarizing the Customs tariffs of the country.

Customs Classification
South Africa uses a Harmonized System (HS).
Import Procedures
Customs and excise duties are administered by SARS (South African Revenue Service) .

Besides the manual method, an electronic data entry and clearance system is also used for registered firms.

Import documents required for customs clearance: 1. Copies of the Bill of Lading 2. A declaration of Origin Form DA59. 3. Bill of Entry (DA500) 4. Four copies and one original of Commercial Invoice 5. One copy of the insurance certificate for sea freight 6. Three copies of the Packing List.

SARS offers a Single Administrative Document (SAD) to facilitate customs procedures. For restricted items, import licences are necessary. For more information, visit the International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC).

Importing Samples
For the entry of commercial samples, advertising material and professional equipment, South Africa applies the ATA (Temporary Admission) Carnet system. Goods should be adequately marked for identification purposes so as to facilitate their passage through customs. South Africa is a member of the ATA Convention (see: ATA Carnet). Goods with an ATA Carnet are exempt from duty fees and VAT.
For Further Information
South African Revenue Service
South Business Portal for Africa
Business Portal for Africa
South Africa Ministry of Trade and Industry
South African Reserve Bank
South African Department of Foreign Affairs

Learn more about Traders, Agents in South Africa on, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

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Reaching the Consumers

Marketing Opportunities

Consumer Behavior
South African consumers are generally very brand conscious. The middle class, particularly, has quite good consumption levels, including the new black middle class. These consumers are looking for sophisticated goods and tend to reduce the amount they spend on vital commodities or housing.

The after-sales service is extremely important in South Africa, especially in terms of providing technical and spare part services.

Consumer Profile and Purchasing Power
The South African consumer is a well-informed consumer. Moreover, the dynamism in country’s economy has resulted into an increase in purchasing power and an expansion of the black middle class having higher disposable income levels.

Trade fairs are a good way to launch products in South Africa. “Freebies” are very popular. Another popular way to promote products is direct selling.

E-commerce is increasing but consumers use the web more for information than for buying.

Consumers Associations
PMG , The Consumer Institute South Africa
SANCU , South African National Consumers Union
Departments of Consumer Affairs
CBA , Credit Bureau Association
Main Advertising Agencies
Print Media Association (PMA)
Magazine Publishers Association of South Africa (MPASA)
Association for Communication and Advertising (ACA)
National Association of Broadcasters (NAB)
Association for Communication and Advertising

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Distributing a Product

Evolution of the Sector
A major phenomenon in evolution of the distribution sector in South Africa has been the emergence of supermarkets or hypermarkets, which sell large quantities of almost all consumer goods on a self-serve basis. The hypermarkets, located in suburban shopping centers, have disrupted the traditional distribution chain by purchasing directly from manufacturers and bypassing the wholesaler, with low margins achieving high turnover, thereby placing price pressure on all competing outlets.
Market Shares
Though there is growing black middle class with considerable disposable incomes, there are still huge differences in income in South Africa with 20% of households accounting for 60%. The big South African consumer market splits in two parts: a market of white people & some newly affluent back people with a high purchasing power, and a market of large majority of black people still with a very limited purchasing power. The majority of the retail sale is carried out by shopping centers, groups of small shops, big department stores (Stuttafords, Edgars, Woolworths), supermarkets (Checkers, Pick' n Pay) and hypermarkets (Hyperama and Makro). The traditional business remains developed, especially outside the conglomerations, but does not represent a big market share, as it is almost exclusively meant for poor population.
Organizations in the Retail Sector
Fuel Retailers' Association
South African Council of Shopping Centres

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Organizing Goods Transport

Main Useful Means of Transport
80% of all freight carried in South Africa is done so by road. Nearly 7% of Gross National Product is spent on freight transport. About 69% of road-freight tonnage is carried by firms or operators transporting freight in the course of their business, and 29% by road haulage firms.
For more information, consult the South African Association of Freight Forwarders' website.
Port of Durban
Port of Cape Town
Port of Port Elizabeth
Port of Richards Bay
Port of East London
Ports and Ships
O.R. Tambo International Airport – Johannesburg
Cape Town International Airport
Durban International Airport
Bloemfontein Airport
Port Elizabeth Airport
Pilanesberg International Airport
East London Airport
George Airport
Upington Airport
Sea Transport Organizations
National Ports Authority (NPA)
Air Transport Organizations
Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA)
Road Transport Organizations
The South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL)
Rail Transport Organizations
Transnet (en anglais)

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Identifying a Supplier

Type of Production
South Africa is the world's largest producer and exporter of gold & platinum and the 5th largest producer of diamonds in the world. The country produces 70% of the world platinum and also has 60% of the global coal reserves.

The country's diverse manufacturing industry is a world leader in several specialized sectors, which includes railway rolling stock, synthetic fuels, and mining equipment and machinery.

Business Directories

Multi-sector Directories
Consulting Engineer - Find a consulting engineer in South Africa. - Directory of businesses in South Africa and neighboring countries.
Business Directory - Find a business in South Africa.
Easyinfo - Find a business in South Africa.
ezSearch business directory - Searching for businesses in South Africa.
Infospace - Free online business directory in South Africa.
SA Yellow Online - South Africa's online business directory.
South Africa Online - Directory of business and finance in South Africa.
Webtraders Directory - Directory of importers and exporters in South Africa.
Yellow Pages - Find a business in South Africa.
Manufacturers Associations of the Main Industries
51 professional associations listed for South Africa.
Trade Agencies and Their Representations Abroad
South African Chamber of Business
The South African Chamber of Commerce & Industry
Chambers of Mine of South Africa
Enterprises Federation
National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NAFCOC)

Learn more about Service Providers in South Africa on, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

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Last Updates: February 2015