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Doing Business in South Africa

South Africa's economy is the most diversified in Africa and, as a market of over 50 million consumers and a gateway to the southern African region, it offers potential for trade and investment for Irish businesses.

Key sectors

South Africa has a highly diversified economy, and Irish companies are already working successfully in a range of sectors.  Key growth sectors include:

  • Agri-food
  • Energy
  • Mining
  • Tourism and hospitality
  • ICT
  • Financial services
  • Medical technology
  • Manufacturing
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Creative industries

Networks and supports

Each of South Africa's provinces has its own unique opportunities for trade and investment.  The provincial governments identify sectors and projects with the potential to support economic development in their region, and offer support and assistance to companies interested in exploring these opportunities.  Each province has a dedicated investment promotion agency which can provide more information about the opportunities and incentives available.  The agencies can also help to source South African suppliers of products for export.  You can find links to each of these investment promotion agencies here.

Enterprise Ireland, Ireland's state agency supporting Irish companies doing business overseas, works with its client companies to identify and explore opportunities to trade in South Africa in a range of sectors.  You can get in touch with Enterprise Ireland's South Africa office, which covers sub-Saharan Africa, here.

There are also some private sector networks dedicated to promoting commercial links between Ireland and the region.  Business Ireland Africa aims to raise awareness in Ireland of business opportunities in Africa, while Business Ireland Southern Africa's members include Irish businesspeople and entrepreneurs living and working in Southern Africa.  With chapters in Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, Harare and Maputo, this network provides links with hundreds of Irish businesspeople in a range of sectors.

Regulations and requirements

South Africa has its own customs, immigration, taxation and other regulations which must be strictly adhered to by anyone trading with or investing in the country.  To ensure that you are aware of and compliant with all relevant regulations, it is advisable to deal directly with the South African authorities. 

For investors, this can most conveniently be done through one of the government's One Stop Shops, in the province in which you intend to make your investment.  The One Stop Shops are run by InvestSA, and aim to facilitate investment by streamlining the various regulatory processes and helping to cut through red tape.  More information about these services can be found here.

The Department of Trade and Industry can also provide up to date information about current regulations, trade tariffs and market access requirements.  Links to the Department of Trade and Industry's website, and the websites of other import agencies such as the tax authority (the South African Revenue Services) and the immigration authority (the Department of Home Affairs), can be found here.

Business and Human Rights

The actions of business enterprises have the potential to affect people's enjoyment of their human rights, either positively or negatively.  When doing business in a new context with which you may not be entirely familiar, it is important to consider the potential impact of your business activities on the human rights of the local community, to avoid any inadvertent negative effects.  The South African Human Rights Commission has published a useful Human Rights and Business Country Guide, which aims to help companies to respect human rights and contribute to development in their own operations and those of their suppliers and business partners.  Ireland has also published a National Plan on Business and Human Rights, aiming to support Irish businesses to follow responsible business practices at home and overseas. 

The Embassy

The Embassy can provide information on South Africa's trade and investment regulations, direct companies to useful contacts and resources, and provide assistance with market access issues.  

If you have any questions about the information on this page or would like to learn more about doing business with South Africa, please contact us.  We would also like to hear from you if you are already trading or investing with South Africa, and would be pleased to add you to our mailing list to ensure that you receive relevant updates and invitations to events.