South Africa:

Summary Report on Trade, Lending, Investment, and Strategic Minerals

NSIAD-88-228: Published: Sep 7, 1988. Publicly Released: Sep 7, 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; (3) the status and implementation of U.S. disinvestment; and (4) U.S. dependence on South African strategic minerals.

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) from 1982 to 1987 those countries accounted for 81 percent of its imports and 78 percent of its exports; (3) since 1986, U.S. sanctions have cut South Africa's exports by $417 million; and (4) although South Africa was able to increase its exports of sanctioned commodities, redirecting trade to other countries did not help it to recover its losses due to sanctions. GAO also found that: (1) the United States, the United Kingdom, West Germany, and Switzerland accounted for almost half of South Africa's $23-billion foreign debt; (2) although lending to South Africa decreased in reaction to its perceived political instability, poor economic performance, and 1985 freeze on debt repayment, lending should increase as the overall lending climate improves; (3) although more than half of U.S. companies withdrew from South Africa after 1984, direct U.S. investment increased 4 percent due to U.S. companies' reinvestment earnings of about $199 million; (4) the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act exempted 10 strategic minerals from import prohibitions; (5) with the exception of two platinum-group metals, alternative U.S. supply sources existed for South African strategic minerals; (6) the estimated 5-year direct economic cost of an import embargo on 6 of the 10 minerals totalled $9.25 billion; and (7) the list of certified minerals could change because of new information.

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