North-South Sudan economy talks collapse

MENA, Ahram Online, Sunday 31 Jul 2011

The two Sudans fall out over oil transit and currency issues at the latest round of Ethiopia-hosted talks

Sudan oil issues
Oil transfer - a sticking point for the two Sudans (Photo: AFP)

Economic talks between the Sudanese government and newly independent South Sudan collapsed on Sunday after the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement slammed compromises suggested  by Thabo Mbeki, the former president of South Africa and moderator of the discussions.

This came after agreeing on Saturday to finalise economy-related talks on sensitive issues of oil and currency by the end of this September.

The talks on post-secession arrangements between Khartoum and Juba were suspended prior to Southern Sudan’s independence on 9 July.

The Sudanese government’s delegation, led by minister of finance Al-Fatih Ali, returned to Khartoum after visiting Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa where he had resumed the round of African Union-mediated talks.

Mbeki’s suggestions were associated with oil transit and Northern oil infrastructure usage fees.

Several sources claimed that Mbeki’s suggestions would not retain the North’s share as determined by the former agreement, but would provide a superior position for the North than the public movement put forward.

The Sudanese government is said to be clinging to the fees it previously imposed based upon “international pricing standards”, dropping previously imposed discriminatory charges.

According to sources, the Sudanese government was aiming for comprehensive resolutions, not partial ones.
Al Ray Al Aam, a Sudanese newspaper, said on Sunday that the security arrangements team stayed in Addis Ababa, but sources did not confirm this.

Haj Majid Sowar, the Sudanese youth and sports minister, assured the settlement of the North-South currency matter when each party launches its currency.

In a newspaper interview, Sowar emphasised the need to resolve such "urgent" economic issues. He also explained that the budget would lose $3 million during the remaining months.

Sowar said that mediators are looking for an equitable solution between the parties on the oil issue, raising the possibility of the South renting the North’s pipelines.

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