Doing Business in South Africa
Exporting to South Africa
President Obama announced the National Export Initiative (NEI) two years ago, with the goal of doubling exports by 2014. U.S. embassies are committed to supporting U.S. companies to start exporting or grow their exports to South Africa. In this section, you’ll find an quick description of South Africa as an export market and some suggestions for getting started.
The following steps will help you get started:
- Are You Starting a Business? If so, contact your local Small Business Development Center (SBDCs). Starting a business can be a challenge, but there is help for you in your area. SBDCs are public/private partnerships aimed at giving educational services for small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs.
- Research the Market: Visit the U.S. Commercial Service (FCS) Export Portal to get an overview of South African economic conditions and opportunities. FCS’ Market Research Library contains more than 100,000 industry and country-specific market reports, authored by local specialists working in overseas posts.
- Connect with Local Export Specialists: Contact your local U.S. Export Assistance Center for advice and support on exporting to South Africa.
- Leverage Existing U.S. Government Resources
- The U.S. Trade and Development Agency helps companies create U.S. jobs through the export of U.S. goods and services for priority development projects in emerging economies.
- The United States Export-Import Bank enables U.S. companies — large and small — to turn export opportunities into real sales that help to maintain and create U.S. jobs and contribute to a stronger national economy.
- Utilize Local South African Resources: Contact in-country business support organizations such as the American Chamber of Commerce for Further Assistance.
- Find a Match: Take advantage of business matchmaking services such as the Corporate Council on Africa’s Business Linkages Program and FCS’ Business Matchmaking Service.
Investing in South Africa
Getting Started and Maintaining Existing Investments
If you are considering investment in South Africa, you may wish to consider a number of steps as you get started:
- Research the Market: If you are planning a visit to consider investment, consult the following:
- South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry publishes the Investor's Handbook 2011/12.
- South Africa’s Consulates General in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles organize events and provide information on investment in South Africa.
- Other sources of information include the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Business Unity South Africa, and the National African Federated Chamber of Commerce.
- Utilize Existing Resources: The Overseas Private Investment Corporation works with the U.S. private sector to help U.S. businesses gain footholds in emerging markets, catalyzing revenues, jobs and growth opportunities both at home and abroad.
- Network with the Private Sector: Organizations such as the American Chamber of Commerce in South Africa and the Corporate Council on Africa in the U.S. provide excellent sources of information and networking opportunities.
- Contact the U.S. Embassy: The U.S. Embassy wants to stay in touch with current investors. Here are steps you can take to keep us involved:
- Register: If you are an active investor in South Africa, let us know by email.
- Add us to your mailing lists- we are always happy to stay informed.
- Meet with our economic and commercial teams to discuss any issues.
Working in South Africa
- Short Term: U.S. citizens (U.S. passport holders) visiting the Republic of South Africa for ninety (90) days or less for tourism / business purposes do not need visas.
- Long Term: If the visit would exceed ninety days or if travelling to South Africa to work, you will need a temporary residence permit instead of a Business visa is Find out more from the S.A. Department of Home Affairs.
Additional Information To Consider
Be sure to check the current State Department travel advisory for South Africa for up-to-date local conditions.
The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) is an important anti-corruption tool designed to discourage corrupt business practices in favor of free and fair markets. The FCPA prohibits promising, offering, giving or authorizing giving anything of value to a foreign government official where the purpose is to obtain or retain business. These prohibitions apply to U.S. persons, both individuals and companies, and companies that are listed on U.S. exchanges. The statute also requires companies publicly traded in the U.S. to keep accurate books and records and implement appropriate internal controls.
- South Africa: Investor's Handbook 2011/12 - S.A. Department of Trade and Industry (PDF, 3.8 Mb)
- Establishing a Presence in South Africa - Grant Thornton (South Africa), 2011 (PDF, 223 Kb)
- Doing Business in South Africa: 2010 Country Commercial Guide for U.S. Companies - U.S. Commercial Service (PDF, 1.3 Mb)
Click here to contact the Commercial Specialists who will help you do business in South Africa with your U.S. products and services.