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Brazil is Our Third-Largest BRICS Trading Partner

Brazil is South Africa’s third-largest trading partner within the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) grouping. In 2022, China accounted for 9.4% of South Africa’s exports, while India had 4.5% and Brazil only 0.4%, according to the South African Revenue Service (Sars).

China dominated South Africa’s imports with a 20.2% share, while India’s share was 7.2% and Brazil had a 1.4% share.

In rand terms, exports to China totalled R188.4 billion, while exports to India were R90.1bn and exports to Brazil were R8.3bn. South Africa imported R367.4bn from China, R130.6bn from India and R26.1bn from Brazil, resulting in a trade surplus in favour of China worth R179bn, in favour of India of R40.5bn and in favour of Brazil of R17.8bn.

One of the reasons for expanding trade within the BRICS grouping was to promote a switch to value-added manufactured goods and away from raw materials.

In the case of trade with Brazil, machinery has a large share. In 2022, this category accounted for 20.5% of South African exports to Brazil and 16.2% of South African imports from Brazil.

Mineral products had the largest share of South African exports to Brazil at 30.3%, but this is well below the 75.8% share of exports to India and the mineral product share of 63.9% of total exports to China.

What is surprising is that the second-largest import category from Brazil is live animals, with a 15.1% share. The R3.9bn worth of live animals is, in fact, the most of all the countries South Africa trades within the world.

Products of iron and steel feature prominently in South Africa’s trade with Brazil, with this category accounting for a 18.8% share of South African exports to Brazil and a 12.8% share of South African imports from Brazil. Chemicals are also important, accounting for a 15.2% share of South African exports to Brazil and a 9.8% share of South African imports from Brazil.

Unlike our motor vehicle and equipment trade with India, where Indian exports to South Africa overwhelm South African exports to India at R26.8bn and R97.2 million, respectively, trade with Brazil is more balanced at R729m vehicle exports to Brazil, while vehicle imports from Brazil amounted to R714m. South Africa also imported R3.1bn in vehicle components from Brazil.

As Brazil is blessed by having the Amazon equatorial forest within its borders, wood pulp and paper is the fifth largest import category, with a 9.9% share. Brazil is also a major exporter of agricultural products, so the vegetables category, which include grains and soya beans, has a 7.1% share.

Although trade with Brazil is small compared with that of China or India, it is more diversified, with the top four export categories accounting for 84.8% of total exports to Brazil.

In the case of China and India, there were only two export categories that accounted for 83.5% and 84.3% shares, respectively.

This diversification is also reflected in the import data, with eight import categories accounting for 86.1% of total imports from Brazil, seven categories accounting for 85.7% of total imports from China, and only four categories accounting for 84.1% of total imports from India.

Source : IOL