Since the end of apartheid foreign trade in South Africa has increased, following the lifting of several sanctions and boycotts which were imposed as a means of ending apartheid.
South Africa is the second largest producer of gold and is the world’s largest producer of chrome, manganese, platinum, vanadium and vermiculite, the second largest producer of ilmenite, palladium, rutile and zirconium. It is also the world’s third largest coal exporter. Although, mining only accounts for 3% of the GDP, down from around 14% in the 1980s. South Africa also has a large agricultural sector and is a net exporter of farming products.
Principal international trading partners of South Africa—besides other African countries—include Germany, the United States, China, Japan, the United Kingdom and Spain. Chief exports include corn, diamonds, fruits, gold, metals and minerals, sugar, and wool. Machinery and transportation equipment make up more than one-third of the value of the country’s imports. Other imports include chemicals, manufactured goods, and petroleum.