Washington DC – USA*Engage, the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) and the Genocide Intervention Network hosted a briefing this afternoon with representatives from the Government of Southern Sudan Mission to the United States of America and the U.S. Department of Treasury to discuss U.S. regulations on trade and investment in Southern Sudan. The briefing also highlighted the importance of, and opportunities for, trade and investment in Southern Sudan as part of a multi-pronged international effort to stabilize the country and the region.
“While sanctions are in place restricting trade and investment in the North, it is not widely known that companies acting within OFAC regulations can conduct business in Southern Sudan,” said USA*Engage Director Jake Colvin. “U.S. government sanctions are fairly nuanced in this regard, and there is an important distinction that allows trade and investment by international businesses and donors. The hope is that this sort of engagement can help boost economic growth in the South and have a broader effect to stabilize the country.”
“As an organization committed to ending genocide wherever it exists around the world, we will continue to press forward with efforts to shed light on the genocide in Darfur and ensure that it continues to receive international attention. Part of that effort is to raise awareness about how engagement in Southern Sudan can help lift the region’s people and its economy out of the turmoil, and have positive effects to stabilize the entire country,” said Adam Sterling, Director of the Sudan Divestment Task Force.
During today’s briefing, the three sponsoring associations were joined by an official from the U.S. Treasury Department and Deng Nhial of the Government of Southern Sudan Mission to the United States of America.
Nhial noted that industries ripe for growth in Southern Sudan include agriculture, fisheries, construction, transportation, hospitality and eco-tourism, among others. He noted that currently only small and mid-sized U.S. companies have a presence Southern Sudan.
“The South cannot stabilize the whole country alone. We need the support of the international business community, and the government of Southern Sudan is appealing to the international community, specifically the United States, to engage in foreign direct investment,” said Nhial. “The U.S. government has been at the forefront of developing the peace agreement. Other countries are taking advantage of the opportunity [to trade and invest].”
He continued, “I’ve received numerous inquiries from NGOs and companies that want to operate in Southern Sudan but did not know they could. Engagement is the important part, and one company going in [to the South] sends the signal to investors that the environment is conducive for investment.”
Nhial discussed three critical events scheduled to take place in the near future that will shape Sudan and bear weight on how the international community interacts with the country moving forward. This year, a census is to be taken and in 2009, elections will be held in Sudan. Finally, a referendum vote on Southern Sudanese independence from the rest of the country will take place in 2011. Nhial also discussed how UN and USAID projects to build roads from the Port of Mombasa, Kenya into South Sudan, will literally help to pave the way for more trade opportunities with the rest of the world.
For more information about the Government of Southern Sudan Mission to the United States of America, please visit http://www.gossmission.org/goss/. For more information about U.S. regulations involving Sudan, visit http://www.treas.gov/ofac.
USA*Engage (www.usaengage.org) is a coalition of small and large businesses, agriculture groups and trade associations working to seek alternatives to the proliferation of unilateral U.S. foreign policy sanctions and to promote the benefits of U.S. engagement abroad. Established in 1997 and organized under the National Foreign Trade Council (www.nftc.org), USA*Engage leads a campaign to inform policy-makers, opinion-leaders, and the public about the counterproductive nature of unilateral sanctions, the importance of exports and overseas investment for American competitiveness and jobs, and the role of American companies in promoting human rights and democracy world wide.
The National Foreign Trade Council (www.nftc.org) is a leading business organization advocating an open, rules-based global trading system. Founded in 1914 by a broad-based group of American companies, the NFTC now serves hundreds of member companies through its offices in Washington and New York.
The Genocide Intervention Network is working to build the first permanent anti-genocide constituency in the United States, mobilizing the political will to stop genocide when it occurs. Accessible online at www.GenocideIntervention.net, GI-Net empowers individuals with tools to stop genocide through education, fundraising for civilian protection and advocacy efforts.