South Africa: Politics, Economy, and U.S. Relations [July 1, 2013]   [open pdf - 444KB]

"South Africa is a multi-racial, majority black southern African country of nearly 52 million. It held its first universal suffrage elections in 1994, after a transition from white minority rule under apartheid, a system of state-enforced racial segregation and socio-economic discrimination. South Africa is influential regionally, due to its political engagement and trade and investment across Africa and its active role within the African Union. It is viewed as a U.S. strategic partner in Africa, despite periodic differences over some foreign policy issues. In late June 2013, President Obama traveled to South Africa after visiting Senegal, prior to a visit to Tanzania. The trip centered on U.S-African partnership in the areas of trade and investment, development, democracy and youth leadership development, and peace and security. Key issues addressed in South Africa included bilateral political and economic ties, development cooperation, and shared U.S-South African aims regarding conflict mitigation, increased trade and investment, and development across Africa. Congress has long been engaged with South Africa, notably during the anti-apartheid struggle, and with regard to post-apartheid socio-economic development efforts, a key focus of bilateral ties. Since 1992, South Africa has been a leading recipient of U.S. foreign aid, mostly devoted to addressing HIV/AIDS and other health challenges. Aid oversight has drawn the bulk of South Africa-related congressional attention in recent years. U.S. policy makers are also increasingly focused on efforts to strengthen already growing U.S-South African trade and investment ties. Other key areas of bilateral engagement include security cooperation and an ongoing U.S.-South African Strategic Dialogue. Established in 2010, the Dialogue centers on health, education, food security, law enforcement, trade, investment, and energy, among other issues."

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CRS Report for Congress, R43130
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