The United States hosted the International Engagement Conference for South Sudan to welcome the new country to the international community and provide a forum for the Republic of South Sudan (RoSS) to highlight its development priorities and opportunities for engagement with public and private sector partners. From the involvement of ten co-sponsors to the participation of over 25 countries, this conference demonstrated the continued commitment of the United States and international community to South Sudan.
As part of this effort, agencies across the United States Government have examined the tools they can bring to bear to propel development and investment in South Sudan. This was a far-reaching effort, ranging from discussions on a possible new Peace Corps program, to the Department of Commerce facilitating follow up with private sector participants through a webinar series, to ongoing support to assist the Government of South Sudan to manage its oil sector transparently and take steps towards joining the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.
Progress is ongoing and will continue after the conference, but significant steps in a range of areas are moving forward. The United States, along with the co-sponsors, commit to continued support to South Sudan in order to:
RECENT KEY U.S. GOVERNMENT COMMITMENTS TO SOUTH SUDAN
Existing U.S. sanctions on Sudan were identified as a barrier to greater investment in the Republic of South Sudan (RoSS). In order to encourage U.S. investment in the RoSS, OFAC has issued two general licenses that authorize, to the extent otherwise prohibited, (1) activities and transactions relating to the petroleum and petrochemical industries in the RoSS and related financial transactions and (2) the transshipment of goods, technology, and services through Sudan to and from the RoSS and related financial transactions. These licenses are expected to enable greater investment in South Sudan.
Expanding trade between the United States and the RoSS is a critical element of our engagement strategy. The Administration has launched a review of South Sudan's eligibility for trade benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences. If it is determined that South Sudan meets the eligibility requirements, up to 4,800 different products would become eligible for duty-free treatment by the United States. The United States is also starting the process of considering South Sudan’s eligibility under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). AGOA gives duty-free treatment to a broader variety of products than GSP, including apparel, footwear, and certain agricultural products. By enabling greater access to the U.S. market and providing tangible incentives for African countries to open their economies and build free markets, GSP and AGOA together play an important role in sustainable economic development throughout Africa.
U.S. private sector investment will be critical to the Republic of South Sudan’s economic development. The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. Government’s development finance institution, has initiated the process to open for business in South Sudan. OPIC can provide financing and risk mitigation tools to small businesses, large corporations, and NGOs to catalyze private investment in South Sudan. OPIC has experienced considerable demand from U.S. companies interested in investing in the country, particularly in infrastructure and agriculture. In order for OPIC to provide its programs in a new country, the country must first meet a set of criteria. Once eligible, OPIC-supported private equity funds will also be able to make investments in South Sudan.
Through Feed the Future, President Obama’s food security initiative, the United States has focused on agricultural development to drive broad-based economic growth in the RoSS. USAID is working with a range of partners on this effort including John Garang University, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), and the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC). Goals include increasing agricultural resiliency, supporting high-quality agricultural inputs and services and building an enabling agricultural infrastructure.
As part of this focus, USAID also recently designed the first-ever credit guarantee in the newly independent South Sudan to support local lending to the country’s agriculture sector. Working with AGRA, the Development Credit Authority guarantee will mobilize $7 million in private financing for agriculture lending from Equity Bank and Finance Sudan. Negotiations are underway to include an additional commercial bank. The six-year guarantee will provide partial risk protection for bank lending to key agricultural aggregators, input suppliers, entrepreneurs, and other small-scale businesses in the agriculture value chain.
USAID is partnering with the RoSS, the World Bank and the donors of the Health Pooled Fund to expand essential primary health care services. These international development partners will support the RoSS’s Basic Package of Health Services, including primary health care facilities and community-level health providers to offer high-quality life-saving interventions aimed at reducing maternal, newborn, and child morbidity and mortality, as well as decreasing the burden of critical communicable diseases.
The U.S. Government is taking a closer look at areas for increased engagement with women, as well as the diverse constituency of individuals that strengthen South Sudanese society. We welcome initiatives such as:
RECENT KEY CO-SPONSOR COMMITMENTS TO SOUTH SUDAN
The United States welcomes the ongoing efforts of our co-sponsors to help South Sudan achieve its immediate and long-term goals. As one of the objectives of this conference, international coordination is imperative, and we welcome the continued collaboration and coordination. Many of the co-sponsors involved have been supporting South Sudan in a variety of ways for a long time. Below are examples of some of the renewed commitments they are making in conjunction with the conference:
The African Union (AU), together with NEPAD Coordinating Agency, will work to support the Government of South Sudan in developing a country Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) Agenda. CAADP focuses on improving food security, nutrition, and incomes by raising agricultural productivity by at least 6% per year and increasing public investment in agriculture to10% of national budgets per year.
Together, the actions of the United States Government and its co-sponsors are providing the support needed to help build a bright future for the new nation of South Sudan.