US lifts 20-year economic embargo on Sudan

Trade and financial sanctions to end after Sudanese government makes efforts to improve regional security.

UNAMID peacekeepers in Sudan
The lift in economic sanctions is anticipated to improve US-Sudan relations [Reuters]

The United States has announced the end of a 20-year economic embargo on Sudan, lifting trade and financial sanctions in an effort to foster ties with the Sudanese government.

The announcement made by outgoing President Barack Obama’s administration on Friday comes after an executive order to permanently repeal a range of sanctions as a result of Sudan’s efforts to improve security in the region.

For the first time in two decades, Sudan will be able to receive imported goods and services from the US, as authorised by the US Department of the Treasury.

The lift will also release frozen Sudanese property and assets held in the US, and permits the trade with the oil and gas industry in Sudan.

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Following talks to improve cooperative relations, the move is expected to tackle concerns including enhanced accessibility for aid groups, and efforts to end the Darfur conflict.

“Sudan has long expressed a desire to get out from under sanctions, as well as other restrictions that the United States has imposed on Sudan going back 20 years,” a senior US administration official told reporters.

“Over the past two years, we have looked for a way to engage with Sudan in a way we could overcome some of the lack of trust of the past,” he said.

While it is still unclear what US President-elect Donald Trump’s stance is on the embargo lift, Sudan welcomed the decision.

Gharib Allah Khidir, spokesperson for the Sudanese foreign ministry, said: “this step represents a positive and important development for the course of bilateral relations between the United States of America and Sudan, and is the natural result of joint efforts and long and frank discussions”.

However, some US sanctions tied to Sudan’s “state sponsor of terrorism” title remain in place, including a ban on weapons sales and restrictions on Darfur-related sanctions remain in effect.

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Darfur has been engulfed in a deadly conflict since 2003, when ethnic minority tribes took up arms against the government, accusing it of marginalising the region.

Washington’s outreach will still be limited, as the US is unlikely to engage directly with Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir.

Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity, which he denies.

Source: News Agencies