More SA businesses export

9 June 2004

A new survey shows a growth in the number of South Africa businesses exporting – despite a levelling out of global trends.

According to the International Business Owners Survey 2004 by consulting firm Grant Thornton, the percentage of South African businesses that export increased from 39% in 2003 to 44% in 2004, while the global average remained at a constant 35%.

Africa is the most prominent export destination for South African businesses (67% of total exports), with the second most popular destination being Western Europe (28%).

According to Grant Thornton, exporting to sub-Saharan countries, as opposed to more northern African countries, is more common due to factors such as geographic proximity, transport infrastructure, similarities in language and culture, and relative political stability and safety.

While China grew by 16% as a favoured export destination, the number of South African companies exporting to the US dropped by 9%. At the same time, companies exporting to Canada grew by 4%.

According to the survey, in 2003 35% of local business owners reported that a quarter of their revenue was generated from their exports. In 2004, 24% of local business owners, compared to the global average of 38%, made this claim.

Very few business owners worldwide, including South Africa, have transferred or plan to transfer their existing operations to other countries in the next two years. Hong Kong is, however, the most notable exception, with 46% of business following this route.

The annual IBOS survey involves 6 900 business owners in 26 countries, including 250 business owners in South Africa. It represents a broad range of industry and commercial sectors with 80% of its respondents being privately owned. reporter