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Canada-South Africa Relations

Diplomatic relations and official representation

Official diplomatic relations between Canada and South Africa date back to 1939. Canada has a High Commission located in Pretoria and a trade office based in Johannesburg. There are also Honorary Consulates in Cape Town and Durban.

South Africa has a High Commission in Ottawa, a Consulate-General in Toronto, and Honorary Consuls in Vancouver and Sudbury.

Bilateral relations

Canada considers South Africa to be a true partner and friend based on our mutually shared values in support of equality, democracy, peace, security and prosperity. Our strong ties today are rooted partially in Canada’s lead role in international efforts in the 1980s to pressure South Africa to dismantle its apartheid system and promote the establishment of a multi-ethnic, multi-racial, democratic society. Since South Africa's transition from apartheid and its first multi-racial elections in 1994, Canada-South Africa relations have been friendly and cooperative. In recognition of his leadership in the fight against apartheid and his efforts to build a new united South Africa, Canada presented Nelson Mandela with honorary citizenship in 2001.

Post-1994, Canada supported South Africa's re-entry into a broad range of multilateral organisations. Since then, the two countries have worked closely on important multilateral issues, including the renewal of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the creation of the World Trade Organization, and the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), which investigates allegations of serious and persistent violations of human rights and democratic principles and recommends measures for collective Commonwealth action. It is worth noting that South Africa's 1996 Constitution and Bill of Rights draw heavily on Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In recognition of the breadth and depth of the partnership between Canada and South Africa, the two countries hold annual bilateral consultations on foreign policy, trade and development issues. These cover issues as diverse as investment, mining, technical cooperation, defence relations human rights and development cooperation.

There has also been a significant increase in level of academic and cultural engagement between the two countries, including the establishment of the South African Association of Canadian Studies. There are currently over 2000 Canadians living in South Africa and over 12 000 South Africans living in Canada.

The recent visit of the Governor General of Canada, His Excellency, the Right Honourable David Johnston, to South Africa in May 2013 reinforced the friendship between our two countries. Focused on educational exchanges, collaboration in scientific and technological research, growth and development, and promotion of pluralism and diversity, the visit provided significant opportunity to strengthen political, commercial and people-to-people relations.

Development assistance

Canada and South Africa signed a General Agreement on Development Cooperation in 2006. South Africa is committed to strengthening its regulatory and public administration systems and delivering better public services to its people. DFATD's programming in South Africa is closely aligned with the country's key priority areas as identified in the Government of South Africa's Programme of Action 2009-2014.

South Africa receives Canadian development assistance through a variety of channels, including direct government-to-government assistance, through Canadian and South African civil society organizations and through international financial institutions. The goal of DFATD's program in South Africa is to help the country enhance public sector capacity including accountability, transparency and citizenship engagement, to meet the needs of South Africans and to contribute to regional prosperity.

Between 1984/85 and 2011/12, DFATD disbursed C$339.31 million through its various delivery channels for development activities in South Africa.


Trade, Investment, and Other Commercial Relations

South Africa is one of Canada's most significant political and commercial partners in Africa. According to Statistics Canada, Canada’s bilateral merchandise trade with South Africa totalled over $1.3 billion in 2012, consisting of more than $634 million in exports to, and more than $693 million in imports from South Africa.

Top Canadian merchandise exports to South Africa include machinery, aircraft and parts, inorganic chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and electrical machinery and equipment. South Africa’s merchandise exports to Canada, which have been rising rapidly, include precious metals and stones, fruits and nuts, machinery, beverages, and iron and steel.

The stock of Canadian direct investments in South Africa was valued at over $3.0 billion at the end of 2012, while the total stock of South Africa direct investment in Canada is confidential and has been withheld due to provisions of the Statistics Act. Canadian companies have had mining assets in South Africa for more than a decade. According to Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) cumulative mining assets of Canadian companies in South Africa were nearly $4.3 billion in 2011, placing South Africa third, behind Zambia and Mauritania, in terms of Canadian mining assets in Africa.

August 2013

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