Sudan exports jump on strong gold sales

Reuters, Wednesday 18 May 2011

Non-oil exports soar 34 per cent amid worries that southern secession will deprive Khartoum of its main source of income

Gold stocks
Contemplating the loss of its southern black gold, Sudan's economy is buffered by the real stuff (Photo: Reuters)

Sudan, the vast African country poised to split in July, boosted non-oil exports by almost 34 per cent in the first quarter as gold exports soared, official data showed on Wednesday.

South Sudan, where 75 per cent of the country's 500,000 barrels per day production comes from, will become independent in July, depriving the northern heartland -- where 80 percent of the population lives -- of its main source of income.

Sudan has been trying to build up non-oil industries to lower its dependency on imports and contain annual inflation, which hit 16.5 per cent in April. Oil makes up 90 per cent of state revenues.

Non-oil exports rose by 34 per cent to US$451.91 million in the first quarter compared to the same period a year ago, the central bank said in a statement.

Gold exports surged 45 per cent to $246.88 million in the quarter, the data showed.

Sudan is trying to increase gold output and could produce as much as 74 tonnes this year, the minerals minister has said.

Last year's official production was 36 tonnes or above 70 tonnes if gold smuggling is included.

Bank lending to the industrial sector rose by 29 per cent in March compared to the same month last month, the data showed.

The central bank has sought to improve liquidity and lending and fight a scarcity of dollars by effectively devaluing the Sudanese pound in November. That, however, helped inflation shoot up to 16.5 per cent in April from 9.8 per cent in November as imports became more expensive.

Short link: