Canada–South Africa relations

Canada South Africa Commonwealth of Nations
Canada–South Africa relations
Map indicating locations of Canada and South Africa


South Africa

Canada–South Africa relations are the bilateral relations between the countries of Canada and South Africa. Both countries are former British colonies and share similar cultures in terms of sports and language. Both countries are members of the Commonwealth of Nations.

It is estimated that as of 2006 around 38,310 South Africans resided in Canada.[1]


Canada's relationship with South Africa can be traced back to 1899, when Canada sent more than 7,000 troops to support Britain in its war against Transvaal and the Free State. The two countries collaborated closely in transforming the British Empire into the Commonwealth, exchanging High Commissioners in the 1930s and then ambassadors after South Africa left the Commonwealth in 1961. For a good account of this history, see Brian Douglas Tennyson, "Canadian Relations with South Africa: A Diplomatic History", published by University Press of America in 1982. Canada actively encouraged the end of Apartheid in South Africa and the countries have had normal relations since then. The Constitution of South Africa was, in part, inspired by the Constitution of Canada, particularly the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Former South African President Nelson Mandela made an official state visit to Canada in September 1998 and spoke at the Human Rights Monument in Ottawa. Mandela was made an honorary Canadian citizen, during his second visit to Canada. A 2003 visit by President Thabo Mbeki in November 2003, ended with the signing of the Joint Declaration of Intent to strengthen relations between the two countries.

Canada has assisted South Africa in the areas of development (over $200 million) and the fight against AIDS in South Africa and to strengthen services provided by the Government of South Africa.[2]

Bilateral consultations between the two countries are held annually typically focusing on issues relating to foreign policy, trade, defence and economic development.[3]

As of 2014/15 Canadian government assistance to South Africa focuses on four issues:

  1. Improved service delivery with a focus on the poor
  2. Institutional capacity building of South African government and civil society organisations
  3. Improve management of natural resources
  4. Promote a high level of skills, ethics and integrity within government.


In 2014 South African exports to Canada totaled US$1,104,140,558 whilst Canadian exports to South Africa totaled US$439,256,338 resulting in a trade surplus in South Africa's favour of US$664,884,220.[3] Trade between the two countries totalled $1.27 billion in 2017. Both countries are members of the Cairns Group.

South Africa is a major access point for Canada to access the African market. Canada is an important investor in the South African economy with Canadian companies having investments in a range of South African industries including transportation, food processing, hospitality, information and communication technologies, and instrumentation sectors with the largest focus of Canadian investment being in the mineral and mining sector.[3]


  1. ^ "How many South Africans have left the country?". Politics Web. 14 August 2012. Retrieved 28 August 2015.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-03-15. Retrieved 2010-01-06.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ a b c Clarke, Anneke. "FOREIGN RELATIONS SPOTLIGHT Canada". The Diplomatic Society. Retrieved 28 August 2015.