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Sudan, China to increase trade exchange: ambassador

February 9, 2018 (KHARTOUM) - The Chinese Ambassador to Khartoum Li Lianhe has disclosed joint efforts to increase the volume of trade between Khartoum and Beijing.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir during a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, September 1, 2015. (Photo Reuters/Parker Song)

He told the semi-official Sudan Media Center (SMC) that relations between the two countries have developed rapidly, revealing further cooperation with Khartoum during the coming period, particularly on oil, agriculture and industry fields.

The Chinese envoy described ties between the two countries as strategic, saying his country is keen to promote relations with Khartoum for the benefit of the two peoples.

He pointed to China’s support for Sudan in international forums, especially in the UN Security Council.

China has been Sudan’s largest foreign investor, particularly in oil and telecommunications after western firms shunned the East African nation due to conflicts and sanctions.

It has invested more than $20 billion in Sudan mostly in the oil sector during the past two decades. Beijing provides low-interest loans and weapons transfers in return for oil.

Sudan hopes to attract new Chinese investments after Beijing had refrained from implementing a number of projects agreed upon with Khartoum following the latter’s failure to settle its debts.

Sudan’s total debt is estimated at $ 10 billion, accounting for about one-fifth of Sudan’s estimated $ 50 billion foreign debt.

In February 2012, China agreed to delay its debts for a period of five years. At the time, said it needs time to rebuild its economy after losing oil revenues as the result of South Sudan cession in July 2011.

During a visit to Khartoum in August 2017, the Chinese Vice-Premier of the State Council Zhang Gaoli announced a debt relief for Sudan worth $160 million, adding that his country would provide additional 500 million Yuan (about $75 million) in financial assistance to Sudan.

(ST)