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Sudan working to secure resumption of Lufthansa flights: official

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March 24, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese minister of investment, Mustafa Osman Ismail, has disclosed that the government is working to have the German airline Lufthansa resume its service to Khartoum.

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On January 19th, the German carrier ended its flights between Frankfurt and Khartoum after 51 years of service to Sudan due to what was described as a profitability problem.

Ismail, who spoke at the opening of the 8th Sudanese-German economic forum in Khartoum on Monday in the presence of the German ambassador to Khartoum, said the company did not stop its flights to Khartoum due to jet fuel problems but for reasons related to the company.

Foreign airline companies operating in Sudan have long complained about the central bank’s restrictions on repatriation of its profits.

The central bank undertook these measures to battle the chronic Forex shortages that followed the secession of the oil-rich south in July 2011.

Those carriers also complain about the continuous fluctuation in the exchange rate and the increase in fuel prices which eats into its profit.

This week the Sudanese pound lost more ground to the US dollar in the black market which is now trading at 8.5 compared to 8.2 at the end of February. The official exchange rate is 5.7.

Ismail acknowledged that German investments in Sudan are less than they hope for, promising to redouble efforts and ameliorate difficulties to allow German investors to explore the Sudanese market.

He pointed that 22 companies are taking part in the forum, saying it is being held in a very important economic conditions and stressed that the government seeks to activate economic ties between the two countries with the support of the German private and public sectors, adding they aim to raise trade from its current €300 million level to a higher level.

The investment minister further said the forum reflects Sudan’s readiness to join the global economic system through Europe’s largest economy, underscoring there are several German companies operating in Sudan such as Laming company which was selected by the Arab League to implement president Omer Hassan al-Bashir’s initiative for food security.

Western firms shunned the East African nation due to conflicts and sanctions imposed upon it by the United States since 1997 in response to its alleged connection to terror networks and human rights abuses.

(ST)

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