Data show that Russia is an insignificant trade partner of South Africa. In terms of economic partnerships, it is a clapped-out Lada vehicle, a lemon with not much juice to be squeezed from it.
As the BRICS 22-24 August summit looms in Johannesburg — in the shadow of Pretoria’s difficult diplomatic dance over Moscow — it is important to note just how unimportant Russia is to South Africa’s economy.
South Africa exports mostly citrus to Russia, giving it a shot of vitamin C. Russia exports mostly fertiliser to South Africa — and briquettes for our braais.
As a percentage of South Africa’s trading relationship with other BRICS members, trade with Russia barely registers. At a BRICS Business Breakfast last month, some useful data underscored the point that Russia is basically a brick compared with the Great Wall of Chinese trade flows to South Africa.
“SA’s trade with Russia is relatively low, representing only 1.7% of the country’s total trade (exports + imports) with the BRIC economies in 2022,” the presentation said.
“Relatively low” is an understatement. The other BRICS members — China, Brazil and India — account for 98.3% of South Africa’s trade within the grouping. China has the tiger’s share at 67.6%.
Whatever was loaded on the Lady R Russian cargo ship might have made a material difference to South Africa’s 2022 trade data with Russia, even if it was only lemons and…