Formal diplomatic relations between South Africa and France were normalised after the first democratic elections in 1994. President Nelson Mandela’s State Visit to France in July 1996 and President Jacques Chirac’s visit to South Africa in June 1998 brought the two countries closer together. Several high-level visits have taken place to further solidify relations over the years, of which the most recent were the Official Visit by President Cyril Ramaphosa to France on 18 May 2021 and a State Visit by President Emmanuel Macron to South Africa from 28 to 29 May 2021.
South Africa and France are strategic partners with bilateral cooperation encompassing many areas of mutual interest at national, regional and multilateral levels. Relations between the two countries are coordinated through a Forum for Political Dialogue (FPD), a structured mechanism that was instituted in 1997.
France is one of South Africa’s important trade and investment partners. Bilateral trade amounted to R40.5 billion in 2021 (an 18.6% increase despite the COVID-19 pandemic). French foreign investment in South Africa stood at R89 billion at the end of 2021. French companies have invested in different sectors of the economy in South Africa, i.e., financial services, renewable energy, rail, chemicals, oil and gas.
Investment pledges have been made by more than 20 French companies in South Africa during the past three investment conferences, and these have been accompanied by a commitment to supporting vocational training and skills development, of which nearly 25 000 South Africans have already benefitted from training by French companies. A commitment of R20 billion in 2019 was fully invested by 2021, and a new commitment of R50 billion was made in 2022. Some 370 French companies’ subsidiaries are based in South Africa – including most of the major CAC40 firms. They are present in many sectors and employ more than 65 000 people. Similarly, France is one of the largest markets for tourism for South Africa. Tourism flows from France to South Africa prior to COVID-19 amounted to more than 160 000 per annum.
South African Representation in France
Chargé d’Affaires a. i.
Ms N Makuwa
Republic of South Africa Embassy in Paris
59 Quai d’Orsay
75343 – Paris Cedex 7
Tel: 01 53 59 23 23