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South Africa

An EU-South Africa Strategic Partnership is in force since 2007 as well as a Trade and Cooperation Agreement since 1999.

 A small cluster community is identified in South Africa, notably in the wine, textile or automotive sectors. The South African government is currently promoting the creation of new clusters through different policies.
Some EU business networks and cooperation intermediaries based in South Africa, such as the ESASTAP Plus project - Strengthening Technology, Research and Innovation Cooperation are funded by the European Commission.

Economic and political context and framework

South Africa is the second largest economy in Africa after Nigeria with a growing GDP of 312,7 billion USD and remains rich with promise (it entered the BRIC group of countries in 2011 for example). South Africa has a diverse economy, with a growing tertiary sector (72 % of employment).


The European Union is committed to pursuing its engagement with South Africa and to strengthening the strategic partnership with its largest trading partner in Africa. The EU is South Africa's biggest trade and investment partner. A EU-South Africa Trade and Cooperation Agreement provides the basis for trade exchanges since 1999, and the Economic Partnership Agreement with southern African countries (EPA) has also just entered into effect. A Strategic Partnership between the EU and South Africa has also been implemented since 2007 that shall facilitate the wide ranging cooperation, on different challenges including innovation and energy. The Sixth South Africa-European Union Summit (document) identified several key areas for cooperation that included energy and science and technology.Read less.

Cluster community in the country

A limited cluster community has been identified in South Africa. Some relevant organisations mainly composed of businesses have been identified in specific sectors such as the South Africa Technical Textile Cluster, the Wine Industry Network for Expertise and Technology, as well as Durban Automotive Cluster and Durban Chemicals Cluster, amongst others. Some of these organisations, such as Wines of South Africa, play an important role in promoting international collaborations and marketing South African products internationally.

Cluster policies encouraging the development and internationalisation of clusters

The South African Government seeks to strengthen the competitiveness, productivity and trade performance of the core productive sectors of its economy. It identified in the Medium-term Strategic Framework 2014-2019 opportunities in the following areas: the green economy, the ocean economy, as well as research and technology development.Read more...

The Industry Policy Action Plan (see documents) implemented by the Department of Trade and Industry, underlined the support of clusters in several sectors (such as automotive, Aerospace and Defence, Green industries, textile, plastics, chemicals and pharmaceuticals) as well as measures to support the internationalisation of the targeted sectors. The new Special Economic Zone (SEZ) policy that established an Industrial Development Zones programme supports industrial agglomerations through clustering. The South African cluster policy is mostly focused on SMEs and innovative businesses. Other policies promote cluster development such as the Competitiveness Improvement Programme (document) for clusters in the clothing, textiles, footwear, leather and leather goods industries.Read less.

Cluster to cluster cooperation opportunities and potential interest from European clusters and SMEs

The TCI network held its international cluster conference in South Africa in 2008, which placed international focus on South Africa’s cluster community.

There are some EU business networks and cooperation intermediaries in South Africa, such as the ESASTAP Plus project - Strengthening Technology, Research and Innovation Cooperation between Europe and South Africa, funded by the EC. The European Union Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Southern Africa also represents European businesses in Southern Africa. There is no EEN contact point in South Africa. The platform EU SA Business Links is a source of information. There are national supports for businesses in South Africa (eg. the Dutch mission, Business France…).


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