South Africa:

Trends in Trade, Lending, and Investment

NSIAD-88-165: Published: Apr 29, 1988. Publicly Released: Apr 29, 1988.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO examined trade with South Africa, specifically: (1) changes over the past 5 years; (2) changes in public and private credit availability; and (3) the status of U.S. disinvestment from South Africa.

GAO found that: (1) most of South Africa's trade was with the United States, the United Kingdom, West Germany, France, Italy, and Japan; (2) in 1986, these nations provided 79 percent of South Africa's $8.2 billion in imports and markets for 78 percent of its $12.4 billion in exports; (3) South Africa's total world trade decreased from $5.6 billion in 1982 to $5.2 billion in 1987, while its imports decreased significantly, from about $6.4 billion to about $4.4 billion; (4) the United States and the United Kingdom decreased their shares of imports and exports, while Japan increased its share; (5) most of South Africa's approximately $23 billion in foreign debt was short term and lent to private sector borrowers; (6) international banks held $16.12 billion of the debt, while the rest was in bond issues or debts to foreign nonbanks and international institutions; (7) although the political and economic situation in South Africa decreased lending from Western banks, U.S. bank lending increased in the first 6 months of 1987 and should continue as the lending climate improves; (8) direct U.S. investment decreased 10 percent between 1982 and 1986; (9) 156 U.S. companies have withdrawn from South Africa since 1984; and (10) of the 157 companies with direct investments or employees in South Africa, 11 announced their intentions to withdraw.

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