Gold remains Sudan’s largest export commodity

The Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS) report on foreign trade states that gold still remains the largest export commodity from Sudan.

The Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS) report on foreign trade states that gold still remains the largest export commodity from Sudan.

The CBoS trade report indicated that Sudan saw its trade deficit lessen from last year’s $4.7 billion deficit to this current year’s deficit of $1.5 billion. The trade deficit reflects Sudan’s import commodities exceeding its exports.

Amid growing concerns of economic and food insecurity in the region, as well as the political crisis currently embroiled in Sudan, the United Nation’s Secretary-General António Guterres stated in a report on September 2 that Sudan is at risk of being “constrained economically” and this will likely “deter investors”.  

Sudan is one of the largest producers of gold in Africa, however production is often driven by unregulated, artisanal (individual subsistence) mining, and routine gold smuggling across international borders is a constant problem.

It is estimated that between 50 per cent and 80 per cent of Sudan’s gold is smuggled out of the country, with proceeds frequently used to finance the internal conflict.

CBoS issued a new circular to banks and related authorities in March, banning the export of gold by government agencies and foreigners, individuals, and companies, excluding concession companies operating in mining. The circular also limits the role of the Central Bank of Sudan to purchasing gold for the purpose of building reserves only.

In an interview with Radio Dabanga’s Sudan Today programme, Professor of Economics at El Nilein University in Khartoum Dr Hasan Bashir explained that export volumes could have been 10 times the size of current exports and highlighted the continued smuggling of large quantities of gold from the country.

Russian involvement

CNN published an investigation that had been seven months in the making disclosing how “Russia is plundering gold in Sudan to boost Putin’s war effort in Ukraine” with the complicity of Sudanese military rulers. Following the publication, some Sudanese have called for new marches of the millions to protest against Russia’s looting of gold today.

CNN’s investigation shows the extent to which Russia smuggles gold out of Sudan, bypassing the county’s official gold export regulations.

At least 16 known instances of Russian gold smuggling flights out of Sudan, have occurred in the past year and a half, the investigation report explained.

Interviews with high-level Sudanese and US officials suggest the existence of ‘an elaborate Russian scheme’ to plunder Sudan’s gold reserves to strengthen Russian wealth in the face of Western sanctions.