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(News Focus) Expectations high for economically unleashed Sudan

2017/03/15 14:42

KHARTOUM, March 14 (Yonhap) -- It's around 2:00 p.m. Tuesday at Alsuq Alarabi (Arab Market), located in the center of the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.

Alhoriya (Freedom) Street that runs through the market is crowded with people selling and buying goods, despite the blazing sun pushing the daily high to 43 C.

"This place, one of the country's largest markets, is always crowded with people all year round," local resident Hafiz Yosef, 27, said.

The 2-kilometer street is lined with some 100 electronic appliance shops, supermarkets and groceries, with large signs promoting the stylish home appliances of South Korean tech giants Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Inc., with their blue and red logos easily spotted in many places.

The logos of Japan's Panasonic and China's Huawei can also be found.

Alsuq Alarabi (Arab Market) in Khartoum (Yonhap) Alsuq Alarabi (Arab Market) in Khartoum (Yonhap)

"You can easily see products of famous home appliance makers in this place," dealer Samih Atier, 37, said, while bragging about his Samsung Galaxy and Apple iPhone smartphones.

Korean-made products are currently dominating the market, following Japanese ones, he said, adding, "But now, Chinese products are beginning to flood the market."

   A lot of cars made by South Korea's Hyundai and Kia, and Japan's Toyota and Mitsubishi are also seen on the two-lane street.

Hawkers show up to sell drivers mineral water, tissues and sun visors without fail whenever traffic jams occur. There are also donkeys pulling wagons, and people drinking tea on the street.

Alsuq Alarabi (Arab Market) in Khartoum (Yonhap) Alsuq Alarabi (Arab Market) in Khartoum (Yonhap)

These days a vigorous atmosphere surrounds this African nation, which is apparently ascribable to the conditional lifting of the United States' economic sanctions on the country in January.

Many people are convinced that the Sudanese economy has hit a turning point now that the suffocating 20-year sanctions are no more.

"Any big change is not instantly shown in the market, and yet a lot of people believe the economic situation will improve once the sanctions are completely lifted in the near future," former journalist Aiman Ibrahim said.

The advance of international companies into the country will be further expanded if foreign currency transactions are completely deregulated, he said.

As Ibrahim said, Sudan has suffered severe economic difficulties under the sanctions that prevented it from dealing with foreign banks, a great stumbling block to trade and investment.

Sudan was designated as a terror-sponsoring country in 1993 because of suspicions that it supported terror organizations and human rights abuse in its western state of Darfur, and was put on the trade sanctions list of countries by the United States in 1997.

On Jan. 13, then-U.S President Barack Obama signed an administrative order to exclude Sudan from the list.

Sudan is currently in a six-month probation period and will be completely free of the sanctions July 12.

Alsuq Alarabi (Arab Market) in Khartoum (Yonhap) Alsuq Alarabi (Arab Market) in Khartoum (Yonhap)

The GDP of Sudan with a population of 40 million is the third largest among sub-Saharan nations, following Nigeria and South Africa.

Its annual exports are about US$10 billion. In particular, Sudan exported 80 tons of gold last year, becoming the second-largest gold exporter in Africa behind South Africa.

The size of arable farmland suitable for sesame, peanuts, sunflowers, barley and wheat amounts to 50 million hectares.

A Sudanese government official urged South Korea's investment in the country, saying, "Anyone who comes to Sudan will bear good fruits."

   "Sudan is expected to establish a foundation for economic developments through the lifting of the U.S. sanctions," a report written by the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency's office in South Korea early this year read.

However, the low transparency of the Sudanese government, lack of reliable market information and uneasy foreign currency transactions are still viewed as major obstacles to foreign investment.

The government's fiscal shortage, China's aggressive inroads and the exclusive Arab fund also should not be ignored for the time being, experts said.

(END)

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