Following is the text of a communiqué from participants in the South Sudan Economic Partners Forum, which was hosted by the Department of State on April 16.
The Governments of the United States and the Republic of South Sudan, in coordination with the European Union, Norway and the United Kingdom, met April 16 with more than forty other governments and international organizations at the South Sudan Economic Partners Forum in Washington, DC. The forum marked the start of an enhanced partnership to strengthen governance, political inclusiveness and sustainable development in South Sudan. Hosted by the U.S. Government, the Partners Forum reviewed South Sudan’s progress over the challenging past 18 months, welcomed the Government’s fiscal and economic strategy, and agreed on the outlines of a compact based on mutual commitments to reform and international engagement.
The Government of South Sudan highlighted the major macro-economic challenges the new nation has faced over the past 18 months and key reform priorities moving forward. The shutdown of oil production in January 2012 sparked a severe fiscal crisis. In response, the Government of South Sudan has undertaken to put in place fiscal and monetary policies to stabilize the macro-economy and is currently negotiating an economic program with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The development partners emphasized the importance of a rapid conclusion of this program. Following the recent agreement between South Sudan and Sudan to resume oil production and open borders for trade, the Government of South Sudan has committed to put in place additional policy measures to establish macroeconomic stability, strengthen governance, guarantee political space and fundamental rights, enhance the management of public finances and natural resources, combat corruption, increase capacity for basic social services, and boost broad-based economic growth in order to transform the lives of the South Sudanese people. As a critical first step, the Government of South Sudan emphasized its commitment to strengthen its macro-economic framework with support from the IMF and embark on an economic reform program in cooperation with international financial institutions.
Participants in the forum applauded progress achieved in implementation of the September 27 cooperation agreements between South Sudan and Sudan, which has led, among other benefits, to resumption of oil production in South Sudan with exportation through Sudan. Direct consultations between South Sudanese President Kiir and Sudanese President Bashir, which took place in Juba on April 12, produced further progress toward finding practical solutions for the remaining outstanding issues and establishing mutually beneficial relations between the two peoples and their states. Participants strongly believe it is in the interests of both countries to seek constructive solutions to all their remaining differences, which will lay the foundations for building two peaceful, prosperous and viable states.
Recognizing the fragility of South Sudan’s progress, the Government of South Sudan and its international partners will renew and enhance their partnership in the spirit of the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States to enable the transition toward greater economic resilience. Acknowledging the toll of decades of violence and the continuing impact of conflict and insecurity on the people of South Sudan, the government is committed to work to prevent and to reduce hostilities in an integrated, inclusive and non-violent way. This requires a coordinated approach to the use of political, security, humanitarian and development approaches. Now, more than ever, it is important to sustain and accelerate South Sudan’s reform momentum. The international community is committed to long-term engagement with South Sudan in order to support inclusive political governance, public accountability, effective social services and a vibrant private sector.
South Sudan, as a leading member of the g7+ group of fragile states, proposed a compact with international partners to engender mutual commitments towards greater reform and aid effectiveness. Over the coming months, a broad range of stakeholders will develop a partnership compact for South Sudan, which will include mutually agreed policy benchmarks for the Government of South Sudan, matched with commitments from partners to build capacity and improve the effectiveness of aid. Once finalized, the compact is intended to provide an umbrella agreement for innovative financing from a range of international partners, including through proposed additional support for education and health sector salaries and the development of a new South Sudan Partnership Fund to support capacity building for good governance, investments in priority sectors and support for basic services. Various international partners indicated during the forum that they foresee adding substantial new support to their contributions – up to $300 million. This year approximately $1.3 billion is provided by donors to South Sudan.
Convinced that a thriving private sector is critical to job creation, improved livelihoods and economic growth, international partners also agreed to support the Government of South Sudan to organize a Private Sector Investment Conference in Juba in late 2013.