Current Date:

Sunday, 22 October 2017

London: Two Ambassadors, Tens of Companies and One Message:

The Sudan is Open for Investment Arlington Street in London is small; but number 21- which is next door to the fabulous Ritz

Hotel-was the venue of an event of huge significance for Sudanese-British economic cooperation. Peter Meyer, Chairperson and CEO of the Middle East Association hosted an Ambassadorial Country Briefing about the Sudan on 28 February which was attended by tens of British companies. The main speakers were H.E. Michael Aron, the British Ambassador to the Sudan and HE Mohamed A. A. Eltom the Sudanese Ambassador in London. Their cooperation resulted in the inauguration last year of the Strategic Dialogue between the two governments .The Undersecretary of the Sudanese Foreign Ministry Ambassador Abd Elghani Elnaim took part in the second session in London last October. A few weeks ago the British Permanent Undersecretary of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office visited the Sudan for high level talks. The Arlington Street event was attended by a Sudanese business delegation : Ahmed Elamin Abdellatif, Anis Haggar, Dr Hania Morsi Fadl  OBE and Hassan Abdelhalim. It was also attended by Lord Sheikh,chair  of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Sudan. Michael Aron, who flew all the way from Khartoum for the event, began by explaining that President Obama's 13 January Executive Order easing Sudan-related sanctions was seen by some as a surprise move. Actually it came as result of substantive talks in which both John Kerry and the US envoy Donald Booth were involved. The team of the president elect
Trump was also on board. He went on to remind British Businesses that the sanctions have not been wholly lifted .There are no barriers to trade now; but The Sudan has not been  removed from the Terror Sponsors' list and a decisive US  report assessing progress is due next  July. The yardstick for the report includes action to end conflicts, continued efforts to combat terrorism, facilitating humanitarian relief, human rights concerns as well as a positive regional role (especially regarding South Sudan).He mentioned the National Dialogue and the importance of encouraging the Sudan to involve those holding out, coordinating with Thabo Mbeki's panel to pave the way for a new government and elections. A conducive atmosphere for stability would be helped by avoiding arrests, newspaper confiscation and stopping citizens from travelling abroad. He emphasised the fact that opportunities for investment are limitless in agriculture, mining, health and transport. He said that he hoped the Sudan would take the opportunity to completely reverse its negative image abroad.
He concluded by praising members of the US-Sudan business Council who were present for their role, below the radar screen, in campaigning for the lifting of sanctions.
Ambassador ElTom began by thanking the Middle East Association and explaining that US sanctions were actually not restricted to relations with the US .but have impacted the Sudan's relations with other countries. He commented on the US yardstick referred to by Ambassador Aaron and confirmed that the Sudan is addressing all concerns seriously. There is now conciliatory atmosphere .The recommendations of the National Dialogue will be implemented and the door will be open for those holding out to join in constructive spirit. Constitutional amendments will be discussed and passed and a new government of national Consensus will be formed. He underlined the Sudanese government's commitment to Thabo Mbeki's AU process to end conflicts. Economically, he said that the Sudan has got several land-locked neighbours and is linked to trading partners in East Africa and the Middle East .That makes it a passage to other areas too. Two thirds of the Sudanese are young and the opportunities for investors are huge in agriculture mining, construction and food processing. The Sudan is now the third largest gold producing country in Africa. Ahmed Elamin Abdellatif, president of the US-Sudan Business Council made a very impressive presentation. He noted a degree of over-compliance with sanctions and a tendency of some banks to limit exposure to risks when dealing with the Sudan. He admitted that the Sudan is a challenging environment, but said that things are moving in the right direction. He quoted Bloomberg's assessment on 30 January that "revival beckons for Sudan". One businessman complained that the assessment on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's website about safety in the Sudan makes it difficult to get travel insurance to visit the country for business. Dr Hania Morsi Fadl OBE and Mr Anis Haggar contributed to the event by answering questions.
Two ambassadors, tens of British companies and one message: The Sudan is open for Business and Investment.