January 28, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese government has urged South Sudan to speed up the work of the tripartite committee on foreign debts which is headed by the African Union (AU) in order to utilise the two-year zero option to cancel foreign debts.
Sudan’s minister of finance, Badr Al-Deen Mahmoud Abbas, asserted Khartoum’s commitment to implement cooperation agreements signed with Juba besides strengthening bilateral ties to achieve mutual benefits in the field of petroleum and pensions.
In September of 2012, both Sudan and South Sudan signed a series of cooperation agreements, which covered oil, citizenship rights, security issues, banking, border trade among others.
Last March, the two countries signed an implementation matrix for these cooperation agreements.
Abbas met on Tuesday with South Sudan’s minister of oil and the person in charge of economic cooperation with Sudan, Stephen Deo Dow, in the presence of the state’s minister at the ministry of finance, Mohamed Youssef Ali, and the governor of the central bank, Abdel-Rahman Hassan Abdel-Rahman.
He called for opening borders and crossings with South Sudan besides determining customs points in order to speed up trade exchange and take advantage of the summer period to facilitate flow of goods to South Sudan.
Sudan had earlier predicted trade exchange with South Sudan would double and reach 14,000 tonnes of commodities daily compared to 7,000 tonnes after allowing movement of goods across borders making it the largest exporting country to South Sudan.
Abbas vowed to facilitate flow of oil production inputs to increase production in South Sudan and provide technical support for the oil fields impacted by the ongoing conflict.
Sudan’s central bank governor said if the foreign debts are cancelled, the international community would undertake several commitments including financing projects in South Sudan besides compensating Sudan for oil revenues lost as a result of South Sudan’s secession, covering Sudan’s budget deficit, lifting US sanctions on Sudan and removing its name from the list of states sponsoring terrorism.
Washington imposed economic and trade sanctions on Sudan in 1997 in response to its alleged connection to terror networks and human rights abuses.
Sudan is also on the US list of states that sponsor terrorism since 1993 even though the two countries have strengthened their counter-terrorism cooperation since September 2001 attacks on Washington and New York.
Dow for his part pointed to the brotherly ties between peoples of Sudan and South Sudan and said the future of the two states depends on their cooperation, mentioning that they work as one team with the Sudanese government to implement cooperation agreements and achieve joint interests.
He said South Sudan cannot survive without Sudan and vice versa and pointed to Juba’s need for Sudanese contractors, demanding Sudanese government to provide technical support and training for South Sudanese cadres in oil sector besides assisting in maintenance of oilfields affected by the ongoing conflict.
Sudan’s external debt is estimated to have grown by 27% since 2008 from $32.6 billion to $41.4 billion in 2011. The IMF forecasted the debt level to reach $43.7 billion in 2012 and $45.6 billion in 2013. The latter represents 83% of Sudan’s 2011 GDP, which was $55.1 billion.
Last April, the deputy director of the Middle East and Central Asia department at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Edward Gemayel, warned that it will be near impossible for Sudan to secure debt relief even if it satisfied technical and economic requirements.
Gemayel, who led a delegation to Khartoum, went on to say that Sudan won’t be able to benefit from the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative despite fulfilling its conditions unless it succeeds in convincing all 55 members of the Paris Club creditor nations whom he said have the power to slash 67% of conventional debt owed by Sudan.