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Special envoy inquires about Sudan's gum Arabic for US market

August 28 - 2015 KHARTOUM
United States' Special Envoy to the Sudans Donald Booth (third on the left) during talks in Khartoum, 27 August 2015 (GoS)
United States' Special Envoy to the Sudans Donald Booth (third on the left) during talks in Khartoum, 27 August 2015 (GoS)

The delegation of the United States Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan held talks with the Sudanese Gum Arabic Company on Thursday and showed interest in whether the country is ready for the US market of gum Arabic.

The president of the Gum Arabic Company, Abdelmajid Abdelgader, said that the team of special envoy Donald Booth wanted to be guaranteed on whether Sudan was ready to export a sufficient production of gum Arabic to the US.

The president told reporters yesterday that during the talks at the company's headquarters in Khartoum, they raised the problems facing the gum Arabic production, the most prominent being the American sanctions. He added the ban of international banks dealing with Sudanese banks and the difficulty of transferring money to the problems.

The US delegation “showed convictions that Sudan is the only source for the production and export of gum Arabic”, Abdelgader said. “The American officials wanted to know whether Sudan is ready to meet the needs of the US market of gum Arabic.”

Gum Arabic is an emulsifier and a stabiliser made from the branches of the acacia Senegal tree. Sudanese gum Arabic was the only exemption when the United States imposed trade sanctions against Sudan in 1997 for supporting terrorism. The US said that such a ban would have hurt the country's food industry.

Sudan is the globe’s foremost producer at an estimated 88,000 tons per year. Sudan, Chad, and Nigeria produce 95 percent of gum Arabic exported to the world market. An economist told Radio Dabanga that increased export of gum Arabic may not only lead to improved relations with the US, but will boost the Sudanese economy significantly.

The deputy-chairman of the Union of Sudanese Businessmen, Yousif Ahmed Yousif, told reporters that his union briefed the US envoy on Thursday also on the harsh complications for people working in the international business, because of the States' embargoes on the country.

On Wednesday, Booth discussed with Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour the outstanding issues between the two countries. “The visit comes within the framework of our diplomatic efforts to develop ties with the Sudanese and to discuss all issues framing relations between the two nations,” said the US embassy spokesman, Caroline Schneider.

US and Sudan ties

Over the past years, the US has gradually eased the technical ban for some countries including Sudan. 

A provisional UN agenda for a sustainable development summit next month in New York has listed the Sudanese head of state as scheduled to speak on 26 September. Sudan’s Deputy UN Ambassador Hassan Hamid Hassan replied affirmative when asked whether President Omar Al Bashir would attend the summit.

In February this year, Dr Ibrahim Ghandour (presidential assistant at the time) was invited to the American administration in Washington on a number of important issues related to the bilateral relations between Sudan and the US. The then Foreign Minister Ali Karti was allowed to attend the annual National Prayer Breakfast. 

Professor Eric Reeves, a US scholar publishing on Sudan, wrote earlier this month that these are showings of 'slow but clearly progressing rapprochement between the Obama administration and the Khartoum regime'.

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