July 25, 2012 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s vice president, Riek Machar, said at the closing of a trade and investment workshop on Wednesday that in the wake of the halting of oil production the country must diversify its economy.
- South Sudan vice president, Riek Machar (Getty)
With the development of its institutions, South Sudan will be able to compete with regional and international export markets according to Machar.
The workshop on trade and investment, held in Juba, was organised by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment.
Machar said that South Sudan is dependent on imports from neighbouring Uganda, Kenya and Sudan; with little exporting in return, since the halting of South Sudan’s oil production in January.
Juba opted to halt oil production in a row with Khartoum over the use of the pipeline that transported landlocked South Sudan’s oil to the coast of its northern neighbour.
This coupled with various issues unresolved since the signing of the peace agreement which ended Sudan’s civil war in 2005, led to military conflict between the two nations in March.
However, there is hope as talks in Addis Ababa may be beginning to bare fruit.
Machar further explained that there is a need to diversify the economy of the country with a special focus on agriculture, forestry and livestock, among others. This potential, if developed, he said, would provide for domestic needs as well as producing a surplus to be exported regionally.
He said that South Sudan is currently studying the opportunities available with regards to joining regional trade organisations and which potential resources it can competitively export.
Speaking at the same event, the minister of commerce, industry and investment, Garang Diing Akuong, said the aim of the workshop was to brainstorm ideas on how South Sudan should integrate into the regional and international trade organisations.
Many international experts attended the meeting and made presentations on various aspects of trade and investment, looking into the pros and cons of joining regional trade blocs such as the East African Community (EAC).