Juba accuses Khartoum of blocking trade routes

Posted: September 13, 2011 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Junub Sudan

JUBA — South Sudan on Tuesday accused Khartoum of blocking its trade routes, saying that was the major cause of runaway inflation that has become a major challenge for the newly-created nation.

"Khartoum has suddenly blocked our borders" from where "we used to get most of our manufactured goods," Information Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin told reporters in Juba.

He said the flow of goods had been reduced to a trickle, and that South Sudan had been forced to seek imports from neighbouring East African countries.

South Sudan proclaimed independence from Sudan, Africa’s largest nation, on July 9, when it became the world’s newest nation.

Two months after independence, it is not not only grappling with security but also with runaway inflation. The price of a kilogram of sugar has increased from about $1.8 to $3, three times more than an average person’s total daily budget.

A report by the South Sudan Centre for Statistics and Evaluation earlier this year said that an ordinary South Sudanese citizen spent less than a dollar a day.

However, Benjamin said that South Sudan did not expect to face the current high rates of inflation for long.

"For us we say we will suffer for six to seven months," he said.

"When our trade improves with neighbouring countries, the gap which is there will definitely go down," Benjamin added.

He said South Sudan was resolving the issue by opening "our trade effectively with the neighbouring countries like Uganda, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia in order to circumvent the border closure by north Sudan."

He said South Sudan will also benefit from lower tariffs, leading to lower prices, once it becomes a member of regional trade bodies such as the Common Market for East and South Africa (COMESA) or East African Community (EAC).


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