Germany (Federal Republic of)

History of Relations| Diplomatic Representation | Travel Info | Health Requirements | Climate Info | Currency Info | Trade Info | Visits and Meetings | Agreements | Interest Groups/ Organisations

History of Relations

South Africa has a very substantial and diverse relationship with Germany. Cooperation between the two countries is multifaceted, wide-ranging, and of a strategic nature, covering areas including trade and investment, science and technology, development cooperation, climate change and energy, education and skills development, as well as cooperation on a range of multilateral issues. The frequent high-level visits in both directions underline the strategic relationship between the two countries. Recent high-level visits and interactions included the State Visit to South Africa by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in November 2018. Dr Angela Merkel, the Federal Chancellor of Germany, visited South Africa in February 2020. In 1997 during the visit of then Deputy-President Mbeki the South African – German Binational Commission was launched. A key focus area in the strategic relationship is the structured bilateral mechanism (South African – German Bi-National Commission) which was established in 1996.  The Tenth Bi-National Commission took place in March 2020 through a virtual teleconference due to the Covid-19 pandemic; co-chaired by the South African Minister for International Relations and Cooperation, Dr. Naledi Pandor and German Federal Foreign Minister, Mr. Heiko Maas.

Another key focus area in the strategic relationship is South Africa is Germany's largest trading partner in Africa and in 2020 Germany has remained South Africa’s second largest trading partner (wrt exports and imports). South Africa’s exports to Germany amounted to R 178 010 773 and imports amounted to R 65 495 789 400

Trade between the two countries has grown from Euro 13.3 billion in 2013 to South Africa is Germany’s largest trading partner in Africa and total trade reached R223 billion over the twelve months to the end of March 2021. In 2019, South Africa has further experienced a trade surplus which is a great milestone, the first ever in more than decade. Germany further remains a major investor and a development partner. South Africa’s export basket is characterised by more than 50% value-added products. These products range from cars and auto parts, machinery, fruits & nuts to chemicals. There is a notable export potential in the following sectors: agro-processing (organic food, beverages, wines, fish and fruits & nuts), auto parts, organic chemicals and electrotechnical.  However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, total trade has declined by 8% during the twelve months to the end of July 2020 (Source:  South African Revenue Service, April 2021)

Germany is one of the leading investors in South Africa. For the period 2010 to 2019 a total of 96 FDI projects were committed in South Africa from Germany. These projects represent a capex of ZAR 69.3 bn. A total of 12 620 jobs were generated through aforementioned projects.  In terms of project type, 68.8% of projects are new investments.  New projects have an average capital investment of ZAR 654.5 million and job creation of 50 per project.  The average capital investment for expansion and co-location is ZAR 1 025.7 million and ZAR 435.9 million respectively.  The average number of jobs created in these project types is 364 and 161 respectively.  In 2019, two of the top 10 companies have announced projects, with Lufthansa Technik being the top investor for this period.  The top 10 companies account for 76.3% of job creation and 44.5% of capital investment. Collectively, they provide significantly higher job creation at 332 jobs on average. These companies generally provide higher capital investment at an average of ZAR 1 064.1 million per project.

Germany further continues to demonstrate its confidence in the South African economy by reinvesting in their production plants. Volkswagen (VW) SA has injected R6.1 bn into the Uitenhage plant for the production of the new Polo. BMW SA has committed R6bn in their plant to produce X3 models in South Africa. The latter also involves the up-skilling of South African workers while introducing state-of-the-art technologies. Mercedes Benz (MBSA) followed suit by announcing their investment to an amount of R200 m in the second half of 2017 in AMG models in South Africa. This is after their R467 million investment together with Daimler in the C class sedan and C350 e plug models.

Tourism is another key focus area in the strategic relationship. Germany is, in normal non-COVID years, the third largest source of overseas tourists to South Africa after the United Kingdom and the United States The decline is tourism figures to South Africa can be attributed to the global Covid-19 Pandemic that resulted in Governments worldwide banning international travel.

Diplomatic Representation

South African Representation in Germany

H E Mr P S Sizani
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

South African Embassy

German Representation in South Africa

Vacant
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

Embassy of Germany

Travel Info

Visa Requirements for South Africans

South African passport holders do require a visa to enter Germany.

For more information contact the German Embassy in Pretoria.

Health Requirements

Proof of a medical insurance must be produced prior to departure from South Africa.

COVID-19 restrictions

With effect from 1 August 2021 South Africa is no longer listed as aera of variant of concern, but “only” as high-risk area. The general travel ban has been lifted.

For further information go to Travellers' Health.

Climate Info

Germany is situated in the moderately cool Atlantic west wind zone and the eastern European continental climate. In winter the average temperature is between 1,5 degrees C in the lowland areas and –6 degrees C in the mountains. In the warmest month of the year, July, temperatures are between 18 degrees C in the low-lying regions and 20 degrees C in the sheltered valleys of the south. It rains throughout the year but mostly during the summer season.

For up-to-date weather information click here.

Currency Info

The monetary unit is the Euro. The currency is freely convertible.

For current exchange rates click here.

State and Official Visits / Bilateral Meetings

No Information

Bilateral Agreements

South Africa and Germany have concluded 72 bilateral agreements, which provide a legal framework for cooperation in several areas. These include the major economic agreements such as the Agreement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation with Respect to Taxes on Income; the Agreement Concerning Financial Cooperation, as well as the Exchange of Notes Concerning the Reprioritisation of Funds to the Renewable Energy Programme.

The Treaty Concerning Reciprocal Encouragement and Protection of Investment Plus Protocol was signed in 1995, but it was terminated in in 2014.  South Africa has replaced these older generation Bilateral Investment Protection Agreements (BIPAs) with the Protection of Investment Act (PIA) which was signed into law in 2018. A number of countries including Germany have expressed concerns that the PIA leaves their companies without adequate protection. Most recently agreements were concluded on Technical Cooperation in 2016 and Cooperation in the Field of Vocational Education and Training in 2019.

If you have any queries with regard to treaties please contact the Treaty Section of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) at 012 351 1000.

Trade Info

For current information on trade statistics between South Africa and Germany, visit the website of the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition of South Africa.

Interest Groups and Information

Southern African-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Tel: 011 486 2775

South African-German Cultural Association
Tel: 012 807 1280

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2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa