United States of America (USA)

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 and the United States of America established formal relations in 1789 when the US opened a Consulate in Cape Town. Cordial relations between the two countries became increasingly strained after the National Party Government adopted its Apartheid policy. In 1986 the US Congress introduced wide-ranging sanctions against South Africa in terms of the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act (CAAA). With the launching of South Africa's democratisation process in 1990, gradual improvement in bilateral relations took place which were normalised after the successful completion of South Africa's first fully democratic elections in April 1994.

Currently both countries are committed to, inter alia, the international promotion of human rights, the promotion of international trade, the prevention of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the elimination of illicit trafficking in narcotics. South Africa and the US also share a confluence of values in important areas such as democracy, the rule of law, good governance, and the peaceful resolution of conflicts in Africa.

Since 1994, three State Visits between the US and South Africa have taken place, further solidifying the relationship, as well as the close personal relationships between the respective leadership. President Mandela visited the US in October 1994, President Clinton visited South Africa in March 1998, and President Mbeki visited the US in May 2000. Furthermore, representatives of the US Administration and several US Congressional Delegations (CODELS) have also regularly visited South Africa. These visits serve to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries and explore further expansion of areas of co-operation.


Since 1994, business and personal links between South Africa and the US have been burgeoning and a strong and long-term SA-US working partnership has developed. Ongoing interactions with the US have served to highlight the important role that the US can play in supporting key initiatives such as the NEPAD. It is important to note that the US Administration has identified Africa as a foreign policy priority in terms of the US National Security Strategy.

There has been a significant number of US Congressional and Cabinet level delegations to South Africa. In 2002, these included visits to South Africa by then US Secretary of the Treasury, Paul O' Neill; US Secretary for Health and Human Services, Tommy Thomson; US Trade Representative (USTR), Ambassador Robert Zoellick; and US Senate Majority Leader at the time, Senator Tom Daschle. These visits have been encouraged and utilised to gain Administration and Congressional support for South African and African initiatives such as the NEPAD.

Areas of focus in the bilateral relationship include the Bilateral Cooperation Forum (BCF); building support for NEPAD within the US Administration and Congress; supporting the expansion of trade, particularly through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and through the use of trade and investment promotion mechanisms such as the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA); and encouraging and facilitating investment. Negotiations towards a possible Southern African Customs Union (SACU) - United States Free Trade Agreement are also expected to begin in early 2003.

Bilateral Cooperation Forum (BCF)

Following President Mbeki’s June 2001 working visit to the US, it was agreed that the work of the former South African-United States Binational Commission (BNC) would continue and that the new structure would be known as the SA-US Bilateral Cooperation Forum (BCF). The first Secretariat meeting took place in February 2002, during which time ways in which the work of the 10 committees could be coordinated and strengthened were discussed. The expansion of trade and investment, and the deepening of substantive relations in spheres such as agriculture, justice and anti-crime, defence, energy development, health, human resource development, housing, science and technology, and conservation and environmental matters currently form the most important elements of the Forum's activities.

New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD)

The US Administration is supportive of the initiative, and US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Walter Kansteiner, forms part of the G8 Personal Representatives Committee working with the NEPAD states in implementing the G-8 Plan of Action on the NEPAD.

The US Administration has indicated that their material support for the NEPAD will be channelled through the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) which would potentially (funds still to be approved by Congress) increase total US spending on development assistance by 50% (to reach US$ 5 billion by 2006). Although not uniquely focussed on Africa, the MCA will be conditional upon adherence to political and socio-economic eligibility requirements.

Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad visited Washington in October 2002, at which time he delivered testimony on the NEPAD to the House of Representative's International Relations Committee Subcommittee on Africa. He encouraged the United States Congress to actively support the programmes and initiatives of the NEPAD.


Bilateral trade

The US is one of South Africa’s key trading partners in the world today, and the bilateral trade relationship has maintained a consistent pattern of expansion since 1994. In 2001, the US was South Africa’s largest single trading partner in the world. According to US Commerce Department statistics, bilateral total trade for 2001 amounted to some US$ 7,25 billion, with South Africa enjoying a healthy trade surplus of some US$ 1,6 billion. This figure includes General System of Preferences (GSP) privileges under the African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA) that is valued at some US$ 1 billion. The AGOA provides for non-reciprocal trade benefits and opportunities to eligible sub-Saharan African countries for a period of eight (8) years. The US currently represents an export destination for between 12-15% of all South Africa’s exports.


Since 1994 the US has consistently been the largest foreign direct investor in South Africa, representing some 40% of total FDI since 1994. Through new and returning investments, the number of US companies in South Africa now exceeds the pre-sanctions period. While in 1994 (when US sanctions were lifted) the number of US companies in South Africa was 104 (256 having left), the US Embassy in Pretoria estimates that approx. 900 US companies operate directly or indirectly in South Africa (employing some 125,000 people).

SACU/US Trade Agreement

During a recent visit to South Africa by the US Trade Representative (USTR), Ambassador Robert Zoellick, the USTR initiated discussions with South Africa and the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) on the possibility of negotiating a SACU - US Free Trade Agreement (FTA). The Southern African Customs Union (SACU) has agreed to negotiate such a Free Trade Agreement with the United States, and formal negotiations to this end are expected to begin in the first quarter of 2003.


Tourism statistics from SA Tourism indicate that in 2001, some 160,000 tourists arrived in South Africa from the United States. Post 11 September 2001, informal and anecdotal evidence suggests that South Africa may be becoming a more preferred tourist destination for American travellers given that there are reliable links between the two countries should US visitors need to return urgently, as well as the fact that South Africa is seen as a relatively safe destination for Americans travelling abroad. Furthermore, the regional cooperation that is taking place in the tourism sector in SADC and bilaterally make the promotion of tourism to not only South Africa, but the region as a whole, more attractive. There are enormous opportunities in this regard that need to be exploited, of which the trans-frontier parks concept is but one example.

US Official Development Assistance

Annual development assistance to South Africa currently totals some US$ 60 million, and amounts to more than US$ 650 million since 1994. The US programmes are implemented through the US Agency for International Development (USAID). A high level of consultation takes place between the South African Government, coordinated by the Department of Finance, and USAID on the alignment of the USAID programmes with the domestic developmental priorities of South Africa. The USAID programmes of assistance focus on promoting democracy and good governance in South Africa; strengthening the capacity of provincial and local education institutions; improving primary health care; technical assistance and scholarships to improve the economic capacity in the country; and improving the quality and access to housing, urban and environmental services in South Africa.

Diplomatic Representation

South African Representation in the USA

H E Ms N C Mfeketo
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

South African Embassy

USA Representation in South Africa

Ms L J Marks
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

United States Embassy

877 Pretorius Street

Tel: 012 431 4000

Consulate General
1 Sandton Drive

Tel: 011 290 3000
Fax: 011 883 7081

Consular jurisdiction includes Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, North West, and Free State Provinces.

Consulate General
Cape Town
2 Reddam Avenue
Cape Town

Tel : 021 702 7300
Fax : 021 702 7493

Consular jurisdiction includes Western Cape, Eastern Cape, and Northern Cape Provinces.

Consulate General
Old Mutual Building
303 West Street

Tel: 031 305 7600
Fax: 031 305 7691

Consular jurisdiction includes KwaZulu-Natal Province.

United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
100 Totius Street
Groenkloof X5

Tel: 012 452 2000
Fax: 012 452 2399

US Peace Corps
126 Verdoorn Street

Tel: 012 344 4255
Fax: 012 343 7774

US Commercial Service
15 Chaplin Road
Illovo 2196

Tel: 011 778 4813
Fax: 011 442 8798

Travel Info

Visa Requirement for South Africans

For more information in this regard please call the U. S. Visa Information Service at 011 275 6300. Information is also available on the website of the Embassy of the United States.

Health Requirements

General Health information is available on the website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For further information go to Travelers' Health.



Washington is hot and humid in summer. Winters are cold, with light to moderate snowfall. Spring and autumn are pleasant for outdoor activities. Most buildings are, however, air-conditioned.

New York

The climate is very similar to that of Washington.

Los Angeles

The climate is more similar to South Africa, with hot summers and milder winters than the East Coast.


Chicago is commonly known as the windy city and can experience climatic extreme temperatures during summer and winter.

For up-to-date weather information click here.


The monetary unit is the US Dollar ($) (USD).

For current exchange rates click here.

State and Official Visits / Bilateral Meetings

No Information

Bilateral Agreements

If you have any queries with regard to treaties please contact the Treaty Section at 012 351 0872/0726 or send an e-mail to: vanderwaltr@dirco.gov.za.

Trade Info

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

Interest Groups and Information

No Information

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