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Sudan making new push for WTO membership: official

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January 3, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan is undertaking fresh efforts to join the 160-member World Trade Organisation (WTO), the minister of trade Osman Omer Sharif said on Saturday.

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The World Trade Organization WTO logo is seen at the entrance of the WTO headquarters in Geneva on 9 April 2013 (Photo: Reuters/Ruben Sprich)

Sharif said his country plans to make a formal request to join WTO this month adding that they are making the final touches in preparation for a meeting with WTO Commissioner General.

According to sources that spoke to Sudan Tribune from Geneva last June, Sudan has been seeking WTO membership since November 1994 but negotiations have stalled since 2004.

The sources noted that the government has allocated a big budget for WTO negotiations while training opportunities provided by WTO to Sudan are given to specific people.

To join, candidate countries have to offer to cut tariffs and change their laws to guarantee the rights of importers and exporters under WTO rules.

The minister of trade told the German news agency (DPA) according to pro-government Ashorooq TV that Sudan established a department in his ministry to manage WTO membership process.

He said that laws relating to trade in Sudan have been translated all official languages at WTO and all statistics are now updated. All projects and Sudan’s vision for the business structure in the country and the trade system were also included, he added.

Sharif pointed out that Sudan is a WTO monitored state since 20 years ago but has yet to obtain membership.

He attributed this situation to political reasons.

"There is no reason regarding the laws or the efficiency of Sudan and its ability to obtain membership," Sharif added.

"We conducted bilateral and collective negotiations, and we were supposed to hold a third round in June 2004 that would have Sudan join the WTO, but this was postponed indefinitely, and this postponement continued until today," he added.

The official noted that the secession of South Sudan disrupted the procedures and forced them to revise to the data and figures to reflect the new situation.

On the trade situation in Sudan, he said that "oil made us lose sight of agricultural products, and non-petroleum products have become an important figure, and was able to compensate for [lost] oil income, as well as the entry of gold and other minerals such as iron and manganese, which was discovered in Sudan and in large quantities that contributed to national income”.

The expert at WTO in Geneva Fadl Mohiydeen Tahir told Sudan Tribune previously that authorities in Sudan suffer several problems and lack transparency in addition to a misconception they have that major powers are impeding Sudan’s accession to the WTO.

He noted that the West, including the United States affirmed their support for the accession of least developed countries to the organisation, pointing out that Sudan prevented itself from taking advantage of opportunities and support from international organizations.
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Fadl said that Sudan’s failure to join the WTO contributed to the lack of economic and transparent investment laws which reflected on the instability of the economy and the spread of corruption and cronyism.

He pointed out that Sudan joining WTO would contribute to attracting foreign and domestic investment and achieving transparency and stability in line with WTO rules and prevents the flight of the national capital and attracting national and foreign investors, which requires a large package of measures and laws.

(ST)

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