March 22, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese government on Sunday welcomed French investments in the east African country and called on Paris to support its efforts to obtain debt relief from external creditors.
Sudan’s external debt is estimated to be around $46 billion. Khartoum says it has completed technical and economic requirements for debt cancellation but observers assert that it is difficult for Sudan to secure it without Western backing.
The debit relief require the unanimous consent of all 55 countries in the Paris Club, a matter that they see as improbable.
Sudanese state minister for finance and national economy Magdi Hassan Yassin received on Sunday a visiting French delegation headed by the deputy undersecretary for economic affairs.
According to the official news agency (SUNA), the meeting discussed bilateral economic relations, technical cooperation and capacity building programmes between the finance ministries in the two countries.
The state-minister told the meeting that his country achieved a quintet programme aiming to integrate the Sudanese economy into the global economy in the areas of energy and extractive industries, agriculture and livestock as well as to agricultural industrialisation.
“But all the progress achieved by the Sudanese economy was hurt by the illegal boycott,” he said, referring to the US economic sanctions on Sudan which date back to 1997.
Yassin further said his country focuses on the role of the European investments in general and France in particular, and called for France to play a key role in ending US economic sanctions and support the country’s debt cancellation efforts.
In December 2013, the Netherlands said ready to cancel €150 million of Sudan’s debt, provided that Khartoum satisfies the requirements set forth by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB).
Also, the Dutch minister for foreign trade and development cooperation at the time emphasized that “Topics such as peace, security, national unity, rule of law and corruption are also of great importance in a country like Sudan”.
The German government recently pledged to support Sudan’s efforts to get debt relief if the government of president Omer al-Bashir signs peace agreements with rebel groups and achieve democratic reforms.
Berlin supports the efforts of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) to end the armed conflicts in Blue Nile, South Kordofan states and Darfur region, and to facilitate a national conference on constitutional reforms.
The Sudanese French joint political consultation committee on Sunday reviewed cooperation between foreign ministries in the two counties besides cooperation in the economic, cultural and political issues of regional and international interest.
Dafallah al-Hag Ali, director of bilateral and regional relations department in Sudan’s foreign ministry headed the Sudanese side in the meeting while the French side was headed by deputy director general of economic affairs at the French foreign ministry.
Sudan’s foreign ministry said in a press statement the meeting discussed issues of bilateral interest including political and economic issues, stressing importance of the works of the committee which is set to meet in Paris in 2016.
According to the statement, Sudan briefed the French side on the recent political developments in the country and the preparations for holding the general and presidential elections in April, saying it is a constitutional process that must be met.
The French side, for its part, focused on the issue of terrorism and particularly the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR), Chad and Niger, pointing to the infiltration of the Nigerian Boko Haram group to those countries.
The statement further said the two sides have identical views on Yemen and Libya and the need to resort to dialogue as the sole means for resolving the Libyan crisis, calling for the formation of a national unity government to lead the country during a transitional period.
The foreign ministry said the Sudanese side emphasised the need for resuming France’s technical assistance to Sudan.
They also discussed the current cooperation between Sudan and France particularly in the scientific and archaeological fields, mentioning that five French archaeological expeditions are currently working Sudan.
The French side said the Louvre will host an exhibition on the Napata civilization in 2018.