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February 20, 2018

Banks 'reticent' to work with Sudan: finance minister

Banks 'reticent' to work with Sudan: finance minister
'A dealer works at a foreign exchange office in central Khartoum on October 12, 2017, after the lifting of the US trade embargo came into effect, though the finance minister says banks around the world are still wary of working with the country' - By: AFP/File ASHRAF SHAZLY

Sudanese Finance Minister Mohammed Osman al-Rikabi said on Tuesday that banks across the world are still wary of working with Khartoum despite the US ending a trade embargo.

The United States ditched its 20-year trade embargo against Khartoum in October, citing improvement made by Sudan in its human rights record, but still includes it on a blacklist of "state sponsors of terrorism".

"We did not benefit from the lifting of the embargo. World banks are still reticent about doing business with Sudanese banks," Rikabi told reporters.

Under the terms of the US embargo Sudanese banks could not receive money transfers from abroad.

Rikabi's comments come after parliament on Sunday approved an annual budget, aimed at reducing inflation from 34 percent to 19.5 percent and tackling a devalued Sudanese pound.

As of January 1, the official rate has been set at 18 pounds to the US dollar, compared to 6.9 in December.

Rikabi said the "real problem" facing the country was the exchange rate of the pound.

Sudan has been rocked by years of conflict with rebels in the vast western region of Darfur and the southern Blue Nile and South Kordofan states.

The economy has been suffering from the loss of three-quarters of its oil resources when South Sudan gained independence in 2011.

And the country has been rocked by demonstrations against the government which reduced subsidies and raised prices on certain commodities.

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