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Economic Diplomacy

South Africa is the most advanced and diversified economy of Sub-Saharan Africa and, therefore, not only constitutes a market of great interest but is also an essential gateway to the markets of the region, thanks to good infrastructure networks, strong financial institutions, the soundness of its democratic institutions and the independence of the judiciary.

For these reasons, South Africa is by far the most important commercial partner of Italy in the region:As emerging from the 2021 commercial statistics from SARS, the bilateral exchange with Italy amounted to a record 3,2 billion euro, a significant growth not only compared to 2020, but also to pre-pandemic years. The Italian export reached outstanding results, with 2,2 billion euro, bringing Italy to 8th position among South African providers.

Machinery and its components remain our first export (circa 570 million euro). Mineral fuels, oil and derivatives ranked second in 2021 (420 million euro), followed by pharmaceutical products (133 million), and motor vehicles (127 million).

Imports consist largely of productive inputs for our industry: mining products, mineral fuels, iron and steel processing, fishery and agricultural products.

There are numerous Italian companies that have made productive investments in the Country or are present in the South African market and in the region. Alongside large groups, there are also many SMEs whose size and flexibility are well-suited to the role of a provider for companies established in South Africa or to partnering with local businesses. They can often take advantage of the presence of a vast Italian-South African community that has been established in the Country for decades and successfully engage in entrepreneurship.

The Embassy of Italy in Pretoria is competent for Namibia, Lesotho, Madagascar and Mauritius, countries that have a lesser economic importance in the region as opposed to South Africa but nevertheless have interesting economic opportunities.

Italy has invested strongly in supporting the activities of our operators by offering a Sistema Italia which is ready to inform and assist them, and wants to support the competitiveness of our businesses. The Embassy in Pretoria, with the Economic and Commercial Office, the Scientific Section, orientated at projecting technological Italy, and the Financial Attache’ from the Bank of Italy, coordinates the promotion activities of the Sistema Italia in the Country: the Consulates of Johannesburg and Cape Town, the Italian Cultural Institute, the ITA / ICE Agency located in Johannesburg and the Italian-South African Chamber of Commerce.