Officials say reviving barge transport may ease economic woes
East African nation could import food, drink from north
South Sudan said it’s in talks with Sudan to restart river transport and boost trade between the two former foes, potentially easing the war-torn country’s economic crisis.
South Sudan is keen to revitalize a trade agreement the nations made in 2012, the year before its civil war began, Minister of Trade and Industry Moses Hassan Tiel told reporters Wednesday in the capital, Juba. The secretary-general of the chamber of commerce, Simon Akuei Deng, said river transport could bring in exports that would end high prices in South Sudan, where inflation was 155 percent in July.
“It’s mutually beneficial to both countries,” Deng said in an interview. “We believe that the market will be flooded immediately once the river transport works — the market will have no problem with all drinks and food.” South Sudan could export timber, sorghum, gum Arabic, precious stones and animals, he said.
Landlocked South Sudan’s almost four-year conflict has curbed oil production, sent prices rocketing and could cause the economy to shrink 3.5 percent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund. While attacks by unidentified gunmen on vehicles traveling the country’s main roads have added to the misery, Deng said there was little reason to be concerned over river travel.
“It is a matter of communicating with the rebels who are along those lines that this is for all of us, this is beneficial for all people of South Sudan,” he said. “So we shouldn’t be worried about security.”