Sustainable Growth

Tuesday, 25 April 2023

Climate change and trade risk: South Africa's trade with the United States of America

  • Year: 2023
  • Organisation: TIPS
  • Author(s): Kiara Muthusame, Seutame Maimele
  • Countries and Regions: South Africa

The United States of America (USA) is South Africa’s second largest single trade partner after China, having imported US$13 billion (about R192 billion) worth of goods in 2021. South Africa’s top five exports to the USA are platinum, motor vehicles, miscellaneous chemical products (some chemicals are used to create monomers and polymers for plastics), ferro-alloys, and unwrought aluminum. The USA, since the Biden administration, has adopted a sound approach to climate change and reducing  greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Due to climate change policies in the USA, South African exports, such as chemicals and vehicles, face potential risks due to their carbon intensive nature and the move to e-mobility.

This brief is based on a comprehensive review of the United States of America’s climate change policy framework in relation to industries, as well as a review of South Africa’s climate and trade risks. It forms part of a research project for the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition examining the vulnerability of South African trade to evolving climate change legislation. The research comprises a main report on The global climate change regime and its impacts on South Africa's trade and competitiveness: A data note on South Africa's exports; case studies on various sectors; detailed briefs that explore South Africa’s trade risks with different countries; and key data in Excel format.

The reports, other country briefs and excel sheets are available at Climate change and trade risks.