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Sudan calls for EU assistance on debt relief, lifting US sanctions

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March 26, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese ministry of finance called on the European Union (EU) countries to help regarding Sudan’s foreign debt issue, help lift economic sanctions imposed on it by the United States and assist with the economic fallout caused by the secession of oil-rich South Sudan in July 2011.

The state minister for finance, Magdi Hassan Yassin, told an EU delegation on Wednesday that they want the EU to support the country’s efforts for debt relief stressing that Sudan met all technical requirements for that.

The delegation is composed of members in the European Parliament Development Committee. They are set to meet with civil society organizations, representatives of local and international agencies and organisations working in Sudan to discuss the opportunities and challenges facing Sudan in the area of humanitarian affairs and development issues.

Yassin specifically asked the EU to assist the Tripartite committee comprised of Sudan, South Sudan and the African Union (AU) that is working jointly on securing debt relief and lifting US economic sanctions.

Khartoum inherited the entire external debt that existed prior to the secession of the south. The two countries have yet to agree on how to split up the debt.

Both sides decided to reach out to creditors to obtain debt relief and if that fails will sit down to see how it can be divided using the "zero option".

The Sudanese official briefed the delegation on the economic reform program pursued by the government that included a safety net for the poor and help to those impacted by the conflicts such as scholarships for Darfuri children besides health insurance programs.

He expressed hope that the visit of the EU delegation would help convey a true picture of the political and economic situation contrary to the negative reports in the media.

The meeting between the two sides also tackled the EU states’ agricultural policy and its negative impact on local producers particularly with regards to sugar.

Sudan’s external debt is estimated to have grown by 27% since 2008 from $32.6 billion to $41.4 billion in 2011.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in a report released last November that Sudan’s debt will hit $44.7 billion in 2013 which amounts to 85% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Last year, the deputy director of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia department at, 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

The British minister for Africa, Mark Simmonds, said during a visit earlier this year that resolving Sudan’s debt is contingent upon Khartoum approving poverty reduction strategy which means the ball is in its court.

(ST)

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