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Monday, 23 April 2018

Did Sudan really promise to end its boycott of agriculture goods before Ramadan?

Did Sudan really promise to end its boycott of agriculture goods before Ramadan? Sudanese government officials reportedly promised that they would lift their ban on Egyptian agricultural imports before Ramadan, said Egyptian-Sudanese Business Council member Riad Armanious. Officials apparently promised the council that the ban on some 19 goods will be lifted before Ramadan following meetings between both country’s trade ministers. The Council, which held its inaugural meeting on Saturday, has formed a committee to look into ways to speed up the lifting of the blanket ban on agriculture goods, which Sudan imposed back in May 2017.

Beyond politics, importing goods from Egypt is now an economic imperative for our southern neighbor, suggests Armanious. Egyptian goods are very price-competitive and come amid a time where inflation in Sudan has reached a high of 55.6% in March. The ban, which has largely been seen as politically motivated, appears unsustainable, considering mass protests which erupted in January over the government partially lifting bread and fuel subsidies.

Peace through wider market integration: The Egyptian-Sudanese Business Council issued a series of recommendations to bolster trade between both countries. These include reviving plans to establish an Egyptian industrial zone in Khartoum, as well as building up transportation infrastructure and railway lines connecting both countries. Armanious, meanwhile, told Al Masry Al Youm that an unnamed Egyptian company is looking to build a USD 20 mn pharma plant in Khartoum.

The wild card is the firing of Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour over the weekend. Ghandour was a lynchpin in talks on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and Sudan’s territorial dispute with Egypt over Halayeb and Shalatin.

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