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New Zealand and South Africa

  • News
  • 10/4/2014 2:40:00 AM
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New Zealand and South Africa

ew Zealand High Commission Pretoria, South Africa

New Zealand and South Africa

SA Deputy President, Kgalema Motlanthe and PM John Key in September 2011


Since the end of apartheid political, economic and social ties between New Zealand and South Africa have been evolving. A friendly relationship has been maintained through high-level visits by the Prime Minister, Rt Hon John Key, during South Africa’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup in mid-2010 and, most recently, by Deputy President, Kgalema Motlanthe to New Zealand for the opening of the Rugby World Cup 2011.  Recognising that significant common interests make regular official consultation beneficial, New Zealand and South Africa have implemented annual Foreign Ministry consultations. The opening of the South African High Commission in Wellington in April 2009 was a significant step in the relationship, which signalled South Africa’s developing interest in its political, economic, trade, business and social linkages with New Zealand.

There are now some 50,000 South Africans resident in New Zealand. The presence of these expatriates, some of whom actively look to generate stronger links with their former home, creates genuine warmth in people-to-people ties. There are approximately 300 New Zealanders resident in South Africa. A South Africa chapter of Kea, the global Kiwi Expatriate Association was formed in 2009 with the purpose of enhancing business and social networking opportunities. New Zealanders also support non-government organisations in Africa, providing substantially more through private donations to organisations like ChildFund than the New Zealand Government does in aid through formal channels.

A significant feature of the New Zealand-South Africa relationship is sports, in particular rugby and cricket rivalry. A continual schedule of competition – at national and provincial levels – maintains an active relationship. Both the FIFA World Cup in 2010 in South Africa, in which the New Zealand All Whites participated, and the 2011 Rugby World Cup, which the Springboks defended in New Zealand, have given a substantial boost to already strong sporting links.


South Africa is New Zealand’s 35th most important export market and the bilateral trade relationship is healthy. In the year to June 2011, New Zealand exported goods worth NZ$234 million to South Africa, and South Africa exported NZ$137 million worth of products to New Zealand. The profile of the trading relationship is diverse, with significant trade occurring in many sectors including automobiles, medical supplies, aircraft, machinery, transmission equipment, metals, carpets, paper, cosmetics and industrial chemicals. Service trade is mostly connected to short-term travel, with 20,000 South Africans visiting New Zealand in 2009. Immigration New Zealand opened a branch in Pretoria in 2010.  Some 8,500 South Africans visited New Zealand for RWC 2011.

Although New Zealand Trade and Enterprise does not have a presence in South Africa, it covers the market from its Dubai office. NZTE is aware of approximately 245 New Zealand companies operating in South Africa. The largest of these is Fonterra, which has a major joint venture with a local dairy company. Specific sectors with potential for growth are food and beverages, agritech, technology and specialised manufacturing. There is also scope to develop high-end services such as education.

Trade between New Zealand and South Africa has grown haphazardly. However in 2011 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in conjunction with the South African Department of Trade & Industry, commissioned the attached independent study to examine the trade relationship between New Zealand and South Africa. It aimed to identify sectors already performing strongly and highlight others with growth potential. The recently completed study was launched by the Minister of Trade, Hon Tim Groser and his South African counterpart in September 2011.  It provides valuable insights into the dynamics of the current trading relationship.

Development Cooperation

New Zealand’s development relationship with South Africa is moving from one of donor-recipient to one of partnership and cooperation.  The change of focus reflects South Africa’s emergence as a donor in its own right within the sub-Saharan Africa region. South Africa will continue to be an important dialogue partner and New Zealand will also continue to follow South Africa’s broader role in regional development.

Official Visits

Prime Minister Key’s visit was the first at Head of Government level to South Africa since 2006, when Rt Hon Helen Clark attended the Progressive Governance Summit hosted by South Africa, and undertook a bilateral visit. Other New Zealand Ministers who have come to South Africa recently include Hon Tim Groser, in his capacity as Minister responsible for International Climate Change Negotiations, in September 2011 and for the Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC (COP 17) in December 2011.  Hon Annette King visited in 2007 as Minister of Transport and Hon Steve Maharey in 2006 as Minister of Education.  In 2008, Rt Hon Winston Peters made a substantial bilateral visit to South Africa and Zambia as Minister of Foreign Affairs.




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