Barriers to optimising South African economic diplomacy are twofold: 1) more South Africans engaging in small and medium enterprises need to form part of the dialogue, thus strengthening government–business relations is central to achieving economic diplomacy objectives and key to a results-driven policy; and 2) government authorities need to provide more clarity on the policy environment that includes the Border Management Authority (BMA) Act 2 of 2020 and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). This policy brief is one of the outcome documents from the IGD flagship series on South Africa in the World 2020, which charts and reflects on South African foreign policy annually and broadens the scope for multi-stakeholder engagement on key aspects of foreign policy decision-making, implementation and policy coherence, among other things.