Identifying new product and service export opportunities for South Africa using a decision support model

17 August 2016

In the face of slow economic growth and development, and the perennial problems of unemployment, poverty and inequality, the South African government and business community have long recognised the importance of growing and diversifying the countrys tangible goods and services export sectors. One of the challenges in designing and implementing effective export promotion strategies is identifying the right markets, given South Africas ever-fluid skills, capacity and trading relationships. The Decision Support Model (DSM) is an export market selection tool that makes use of a sophisticated filtering process to sift through an extensive range of product-/service- and country-related data to reveal those product-/service-country combinations (export opportunities) that are the most realistic and sustainable. The DSM, which has been applied for Belgium, Thailand and South Africa, not only brings greater precision to the export market selection process, but also unveils opportunities that may not have been contemplated before thus supporting the quest for export diversification. This paper examines the role of the DSM for products and the DSM for services, respectively, and illustrates how, using the results from the application of these models, they herald the start of a new era in export market selection and promotion in South Africa.