Will Sudan Come Out of the Economic Crisis after the Paris Conference?

Al-Sammani Awadallah

The transitional government is anticipating the launching of the Paris Conference as the transitional government is dreaming high that the conference will lead to attracting foreign investments.

The conference is supposed to address, among other things, debt issues in an effort to stabilize the country and to repair an economy battered by years of U.S. sanctions and government mismanagement during Omar al-Bashir’s 30-year rule.

France will host the said international conference with private and public international creditors.

Meanwhile, the French envoy said that he reviewed with the President of the Sudanese Transitional Sovereign Council, 1st Lt. Gen. Abdul Fattah Al-Burhan, last week, the arrangements for the Paris Conference for supporting Sudan, initiated by Macron and scheduled for May 17.

He noted that the conference would mark Sudan’s reintegration into the international community, encourage the return of investors, bankers, and businessmen to Sudan and prepare for the launch of Sudan’s debt relief process.

The Sudanese Investment Minister hopes that the conference contributes to writing off Sudan’s accumulated foreign debts, expressing optimism that the conference contributes to bringing Sudan out of its crisis considering that more than 8 countries expressed a desire to write-off its debts on Sudan on top of which are the USA and France.

He pointed out that the purpose of the Paris Economic Conference to support Sudan is writing off the foreign debts to enable Sudan to get loans and grants to implement economic projects besides qualifying Sudan to integrate into the international community and provide investment opportunities to attract foreign investors.

The Minister added that US debts on Sudan are not that big as they amount to only US$400 million, affirming that the US Administration promised to urge other countries to write off what Sudan owes them.

On her part, Foreign Minister, Mariam Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi received the French Presidential Envoy, Jean Michael, and discussed with him the ongoing arrangements of the Paris Conference.

Mariam affirmed the completion of the projects which will be presented at the conference including the four sectors, i.e. agriculture, energy, main infrastructure, transport and digital transformation.

Minister of Investment, Al-Hadi Mohammed Ibrahim, stated that the projects which will be presented in the Paris Conference are not for funding, adding that there are four main sectors to which the projects will be forwarded according to the two hour programs, including speeches from President Al-Burhan, Prime Minister, Abdallah Hamdok , and the French Finance Minister besides other representatives.

He added that there will be a presentation on the existing investment potentials in agriculture, mining, and information technology.

The conference will concentrate on those four aspects considering that the private sector is an essential partner in investment, which is the French vision in seeing the experience of the successful private sector projects.

The Minister affirmed that the Business and Employers Federation is the official representative of the private sector in the upcoming Paris Conference, denying the rumors that the public and private sectors will not be part of the activity.

He added that the goals of the conference are to cement the integration of Sudan into the international community, besides displaying the recent economic reforms adopted by the transitional government, adding that it will be a good chance to meet the debtors and benefiting from the HIPC.

Prime Minister Dr. Abdalla Hamdok directed the ministries to prepare an integrated dossier on Sudan’s foreign debts and the available investment opportunities.

It is worth noting that the Paris Conference programme will convene by an economic forum to be addressed by Prime Minister Dr. Abdallah Hamdok and several ministers after which a meeting will be held in the presence of some Presidents.

Sudanese civil society organizations representatives will participate in the civil society forum.

On the Benefits of the Conference

According to local media outlets, economic expert Abdulazim Al-Mahal said that writing off Sudan’s debt will be partial and will be subject to the good preparations and organization of the conference besides the effect of the great powers.

On attracting the investments and entering into partnerships, Al-Mahal seems pessimistic because the globe is busy with the COVID-19 pandemic and its internal problems, adding that the previous conferences were weak and implementation was even weaker.

According to the Investment Minister, Sudan’s day in the conference will be two sessions, the first with the former donating and funding organizations and the second will be with the debtors of the US$65 billion.

That and the provision of the announced assistance, yet to be implemented, pending the evaluation of the government’s programme with the IMF and whether the fund has reached the Decision point according to the data imposed on HIPC.

The second session of the first day is dedicated to investment, pointing out the formation of a room in the Ministry to prepare for addressing those countries, institutions, investors, and companies on the available investment opportunities to create real investment partnerships.

This comes within presenting determined projects that express the actual investment opportunities to attract the investment partnerships.

According to the Minister, the preparations included the new investment act with its attractive articles which will be endorsed next week.

The French

Emmanuel Macron’s initiative to organize an international conference on Sudan emerged after lifting the country from the State Sponsors of Terrorism.

Accordingly, the Friends of Sudan group discussed the preparations for the Paris conference to support the Transitional Government.

The Paris conference, to be held on May 17, aims to encourage public and private international investors to invest in Sudan after its removal from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

The meeting also will discuss with the Paris Club’s public creditors ways for a coordinated treatment of Sudan’s debt, which amounts to more than 65 billion dollars.

The transitional government has implemented several reforms aiming to cancel fuel and power subsidies and devaluate the Sudanese pound.

The international donors, for their part, have been contributing to the safety net programme designed to support poor families hit by the economic reforms.

Sudan expects that the support of international financial institutions will enhance its efforts to rebuild national infrastructures, while foreign investments would boost its economic development.

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