The United States has offered trade benefits to South Sudan during an international conference in Washington aimed at encouraging a strengthening of the U.S. presence in the newest country in Africa, especially in view of its strategic importance, given its oil production.
A meeting held Wednesday and Thursday was attended by the President of South Sudan Salva Kiir, the Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and representatives of several US based companies and non-governmental organizations.
Representatives from the US Department of Commerce were also on hand to discuss to extent South Sudan customs exemptions for exports under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
Kiir reminded the attendees that the South Sudanese parliament had very recently approved a law on “transparency” and “responsibility” in public administration. “We will ensure – had added the president – a safe and supportive environment for the development and investment.”
Washington was one of South Sudan’s main allies on its way to independence from Khartoum, obtained in July after a civil war twenty years (1983-2005). The U.S. position is also linked to interest in the oil fields controlled by the former rebels in Juba, amounting to three quarters of the approximately 500,000 barrels of oil produced each day throughout the entire Sudan.
American oil ”majors” left the Sudan in the ’90s, in the most dramatic phase of the war. Since then, particularly in the South, there has been a growing presence of Malaysian, Indian and especially Chinese companies.