Relations the Netherlands - South Africa

Relations between the Netherlands and South Africa are good. The Dutch business community is very interested in South Africa. It is by far the Netherlands' largest trading partner on the African continent.

Political relations

  • Relations between the Netherlands and South Africa are good. The two countries have a long-standing special relationship, partly due to the Dutch colony in the Cape and the Netherlands’ staunch support in the struggle against apartheid.

Economic relations

  • The Netherlands is one South Africa’s major trading partners, with Dutch business well-represented in the country. South Africa is our largest trading partner on the African continent.
  • Many Dutch businesses are involved in creating water and sanitation facilities, and with various projects to link the country’s ports with the hinterland, known as corridor development. The Netherlands is supporting South African business in the water, transport and logistics and agricultural sectors by sharing expertise.
  • The Netherlands stimulates economic development in South Africa with instruments such as the following:
  • The Collective Promotional Activities Programme (CPA) provides eligible businesses with a contribution towards the cost of promotional activities such as trade missions or attendance at trade fairs.
  • The Infrastructure Development Facility (ORIO) funds infrastructural projects in development countries. ORIO funding has been used to improve and expand the water supply network in the Durban area.
  • Prepare2start helps entrepreneurs seeking to set up a business abroad.
  • The Private Sector Investment Programme (PSI) provides grants for businesses allowing them to invest in innovative projects abroad.
  • The 2g@there grant scheme supported joint projects (between businesses and knowledge institutions) seeking a favourable position in a foreign market. The programme has now ended.
  • Partners for Water is a programme for strengthening the position abroad of businesses in the Dutch water sector.
  • The South African–Netherlands Chamber of Commerce (SANEC) supports businesses in the Netherlands and South Africa, providing information on market opportunities, organising trade missions and maintaining a large network open to businesses.

Development relationship

  • For many years South Africa was guaranteed development aid from the Netherlands because of our countries’ special ties. Until the end of 2011, South Africa was one of our development partner countries. Since it has now achieved the status of middle-income country, the Netherlands will be phasing out the development relationship over the next few years.
  • Dutch businesses in the water, agricultural and infrastructural sectors will be sharing their knowledge and expertise to ensure the private sector in South Africa continues to flourish, and to enable the transition to an economic relationship from which both countries can benefit.
  • The regional programme to combat AIDS in southern Africa, which also benefits South Africa, now falls under the responsibility of the Dutch embassy in Pretoria. The programme addresses on the transboundary aspects of HIV/AIDS, focusing on, for example, regular travellers such as truck drivers. Methods are also being developed to tackle HIV/AIDS-related problems shared by these countries. The Netherlands is working with the Secretariat of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), a regional research institute and several leading regional NGOs. In 2012 the regional programme had a budget of approximately € 8 million.

Cultural relations

  • The Netherlands occupies a unique position in South Africa thanks to our cultural and historical ties, including the Afrikaans language. The Dutch embassy plays an important role in cultural exchanges between the countries, with partnerships in areas including music, literature, design, fashion and architecture.

Bilateral treaties

Up-to-date information on bilateral treaties can be found in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Treaty Database.