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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
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.
OVERVIEW OF SA-US POLITICAL RELATIONS
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
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)
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)
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
South African Representation in the
H E Mr E Rasool
Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
USA Representation in South Africa
Chargé d'Affaires a.i.
Ms V Palmer
877 Pretorius Street
No. 1 River Street (corner of River and Riviera Roads)
Tel: 011 644 8000
Fax: 011 646 6916
Consular jurisdiction includes Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, North West, and Free State Provinces.
2 Reddam Avenue
Tel: 021 7027300
Fax: 021 702 7493
Consular jurisdiction includes Western Cape, Eastern Cape, and Northern Cape Provinces.
Old Mutual Building
303 West Street
Tel: 031 305 7600
Fax: 031 305 7691
Consular jurisdiction includes KwaZulu-Natal Province.
States Agency for International Development (USAID)
100 Totius Street
Tel: 012 452 2000
Fax: 012 452 2399
126 Verdoorn Street
Fax: 012 343 7774
US Commercial Service
Tel: 011 778 4813
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.
General Health information is available on the website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For further information go to Travelers'
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,
The climate is very similar to that
The climate is more similar to South
Africa, with hot summers and milder winters than the East Coast.
is commonly known as the windy city and can experience climatic extreme temperatures
during summer and winter.
For up-to-date weather information click
monetary unit is the US Dollar ($). The current rate of exchange as of 14 November 2007 was around 6 ZAR to the US Dollar. For current exchange rates click here
and Official Visits / Bilateral Meetings
If you have any queries with regard to treaties please contact the Treaty Section at 012 351 0872/0851/0837.
For current information on trade statistics between South Africa
and the United States, visit the web site of the Department
of Trade and Industry of South Africa
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