KHARTOUM, Sudan, September 2, 2014 – Sudan policy makers met to discuss and finalize key policy actions to help tackle critical trade challenges holding the country’s economy back, including increasing trade capacity and diversification of exports. The policy actions were drawn from the World Bank’s latest draft Diagnostic Trade Integration Study (DTIS) Update.
Despite implementing several critical and difficult reforms to help restore macroeconomic balances and improve the business enabling environment during the last two years, Sudan is still experiencing a large deficit that is being met by short term borrowing. Apart from addressing the economic imbalances, the country also needs to ensure proper alignment of its exchange rate in order to pave the way for building competitiveness and increasing investments. This includes implementing a package of reforms aimed at lowering the barriers to trade through reduced trade taxes, streamlined border and regulatory policies, and improved transport and logistics.
The current onerous regulatory polices hinder competition and increase trade costs, while policies which protect the domestic agriculture market undermines production for regional and export markets.
Over 100 representatives from the government, private sector, and donor community attended the two-day workshop to discuss the proposed actions and recommendations from the draft DTIS Update. The workshop is part of the Integrated Framework initiative, which is sponsored by the World Bank Group, the IMF, UNDP, WTO, UNCTAD, and the ITC, and was facilitated by the World Bank.
“The role of this report is to raise the profile of the key reforms - facilitating trade in agriculture, reducing non-tariff barriers, modernizing customs and logistics, and raising the profile of services. These reforms are critical to Sudan’s efforts to diversify its economy, an objective where the World Bank stands ready to provide technical advice and assistance,” said Xavier Furtado, the World Bank Group’s Country Representative in Sudan.
The key message of the report is that lowering trade costs is essential for Sudan to diversify the economy through more varied agriculture exports and through higher value activities, such as processed agricultural foods and light manufacturing.
“The workshop discussed and prioritized the Action Matrix that will be implemented by the EIF (Enhanced Integrated Framework) in collaboration with donors,” said Mrs. Margam Elemam Mohi Eldin Eleman, Undersecretary in the Ministry of Trade and EIF Focal Point for Sudan. “The interest of workshop participants’ in the implementation of the streamlined Action Matrix will be crucial for successful implementation,” she added. She also noted that participants agreed that comments raised by government and stakeholders will be addressed in the final report.
According to Michael Geiger, World Bank Senior Economist and task leader of the report, the DTIS Update will take into account the input from the workshop and be finalized in October 2014.