After many months of popular protests, the 30-year regime of Omar Bashir came to an end in April 2019. A civilian-led transitional government (CLTG) took power in September 2019, with a mandate to establish political institutions and hold elections within 39 months. Severe economic problems, namely rising bread and fuel prices, drove the 2018-19 protests. These problems persist, partially due to infrastructure and transport deficiencies but also due to decades of mismanagement, corruption, and economic practices of the former regime.
Although the lifting of the comprehensive U.S. economic sanctions regime in late 2017 allowed international banks to offer services that were restricted for years due to the embargo, financial institutions have maintained a guarded approach in engaging with Sudan. Sudan’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism (SST) is one reason financial institutions do not provide services even though the United States no longer prohibits private companies from doing business in Sudan. This has hampered the ability to conduct international money transfers and payments through banking institutions. Consequently, banking, financial, and transaction services are often expensive and time consuming for the public and private sectors due to a need to find alternative means to make payments. The parallel market is a significant economic factor as the disparity between the parallel exchange rate (130 SDG:1 USD) and the official exchange rate (55:1) remains despite Ministry of Finance and Central Bank of Sudan efforts to unify the two rates. Efforts to remove fuel subsidies, which would free up close to 150 billion Sudanese pounds (USD 2.8 billion), were delayed because of a lack of support from the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC), a major political coalition. However, the CLTG has already taken measures by opening up gas stations that sell at the commercial rate.
Before the novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) considerably slowed economic and commercial activity globally, American companies inquired and visited Sudan with a view to foreign direct investment and promotion of U.S. products. There has been robust demand for U.S. goods, services, technology, and training/capacity programs, particularly in the fields of agriculture, energy, and medicine.
Some foreign companies, particularly those involved in port operations and logistics, informed the Embassy that the CLTG has been slow to repay contracts that were cancelled prior to its establishment. One company fronted USD 400 million for a deal that was later cancelled by interim military authorities in 2019. The government still has an outstanding balance of USD 200 million, although it has repeatedly expressed its intention to repay the balance. The former Ministry of Investment has been placed under the authority of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning. This move aims to harmonize coordination and consolidate economic policy in response to criticisms of the lack of communication between the two entities, as well as contradictory policies.
Sudan has continued to be an attractive market for U.S.-manufactured agricultural machinery such as tractors and pivot irrigation systems, and for seeds. Sudan’s major dairies began purchasing thousands of American-breed dairy cattle in the past few years. Medicine and medical equipment as well as a variety of academic services remain in high demand; however, activities in these areas are minimal due to the difficulty in executing financial transactions with Sudan. Historical challenges in obtaining medicines and medical equipment became clear during the COVID-19 pandemic. Banking and financial services companies have increasingly began taking interest in Sudan. Oracle and Visa recently executed deals allowing local banks to access their banking technologies and payment systems. Lack of transparency and corruption remain reasons American and Sudanese businesses alike should use caution when pursuing permissible commercial activity.
|TI Corruption Perceptions Index||2020||173 of 180||https://www.transparency.org/cpi2019|
|World Bank’s Doing Business Report||2019||171 of 190||http://www.doingbusiness.org/en/rankings|
|Global Innovation Index||2019||N/A||https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/
|U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions)||2018||USD 0||https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/|
|World Bank GNI per capita||2018||USD 1,560||https://data.worldbank.org/
1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment
Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment
Pursuant to Executive Order 13761, section 908(a)(1) of the Trade Sanctions Reform Act (TSRA) (22 U.S.C. 7297(a)(1)) has been waived with respect to Sudan. That waiver removed restrictions on export assistance that limited U.S. Embassy Khartoum’s ability to provide the kind of support that the Embassy and the Foreign Commercial Service typically provided, including: business matchmaking services, market research on specific products or services, export advocacy, and provision of information concerning business opportunities. See, e.g., 15 U.S.C. 4721. American investors interested in understanding more about the 2017 lifting of U.S. sanctions on Sudan are encouraged to visit the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s website:
U.S. businesses should be aware that investors could face difficulties in transferring money to Sudan as international financial entities continue to exercise extreme caution in processing transactions. Their caution could be related to Sudan’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism or because international financial entities are taking time to complete due diligence or considering the practicality of absorbing the high costs of accessing the Sudan market because of Sudan’s long absence from international banking. Those who decide to pursue permissible commercial activity should be advised that U.S. banking institutions are independent entities and neither the U.S. government nor the Embassy can direct their business decisions.
Sudan is becoming a large market for a variety of U.S. agricultural harvesting equipment and inputs. Sudanese farmers represent a significant source of demand for new seeds adaptable to Sudan’s hot and dry climate. Currently, about 20 million hectares are under cultivation in Sudan; however, 84 million hectares are suitable for agriculture. Rain-fed traditional farming practices continue to dominate, but large-scale mechanized farming is growing, especially along the Nile River and its tributaries. There is a robust market for American-manufactured pivot irrigation systems, water pumps, and well-drilling equipment. Sudan’s major dairies began buying thousands of American-breed dairy cattle in the past five years.
Sudan has a formal private sector, led by several business associations, one of which (U.S.-Sudan Business Council) is working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. These business groups are dominated by a number of large, often family-owned industrial, agricultural, and consumer products conglomerates. Many Sudanese corporate leaders studied in the United States and Europe and are fluent in English.
Sudan presents one of the most challenging business environments in the world for potential investors. Sudan received a lower ranking from 162 (2019) to 171 out of 190 countries in the 2020 World Bank-International Financial Corporation’s “Doing Business Report – Ease of Doing Business.” Sudan is ranked 173 of 180 countries on Transparency International’s 2019 Corruptions Perception Index, tied in ranking with Afghanistan and Venezuela. Sudan is ranked 168 out of 188 countries in the 2019 UN Human Development Index (HDI), just ahead of Haiti and Afghanistan. An estimated 47 percent of Sudan’s population live below the national poverty line, according to the HDI.
Political risk remains a concern. Sustained popular protests over several months put an end to the 30-year rule of Omar Bashir in April 2019. The CLTG assumed power in September 2019 and will have 39 months to implement the priorities set out in the constitutional declaration (signed August 17), including formation of a Transitional Legislative Council, appointment of civilian state governors, and holding new elections. However, the military remains a strong force in the transitional government, chairing the Sovereign Council and maintaining decision making power over defense and security institutions. The CLTG is currently negotiating with armed groups in Darfur and in the “Two Areas” of South Kordofan and Blue Nile States and with non-armed groups in northern, eastern, and central Sudan to bring an end to those conflicts. Sudan and South Sudan have yet to demarcate their common border and continue to dispute the sovereignty of the territory of Abyei. Armed UN peacekeeping missions (UNAMID and UNISFA) are located in Darfur and Abyei.
International air service to Khartoum is limited. Egypt Air, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenyan Airways, Saudi Airlines, Turkish Airways, and several Emirati carriers (Etihad, Emirates, Fly Dubai, and Air Arabia) are among the major carriers that serve Khartoum. No American carrier currently flies to Sudan. Two private domestic airlines, Badr and Tarco, reliably service Khartoum, Port Sudan, and other sizable Sudanese cities.
In response to the loss of oil production and revenue following the secession of South Sudan in 2011, the CLTG has attempted to recover revenues by expanding existing oil and gas production, increasing mining operations (particularly gold mining), and expanding the agricultural and livestock sectors that had been the mainstay of the Sudanese economy prior to the advent of crude oil exports in 2000. Current oil production is estimated at less than 60,000 barrels per day (bpd). Challenges the oil industry face include insecurity near oil fields, antiquated drilling equipment and oil wells, and lack of access to the latest technology.
According to the Public Authority for Geological Research, Sudan’s confirmed gold reserves amount to 533 tons, and only 20 percent of Sudan’s land is being exploited for gold. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reports that 105 tons of gold, 1.9 million tons of zinc, 500,000 tons of copper, and 4,500 tons of silver are located in the Red Sea Hills in northeastern Sudan. The Gum Arabic Council reported that formal gum Arabic exports in 2018 amounted to 75,000 tons, while informal exports accounted for another 30,000 tons. Sudan, the largest exporter of crude gum Arabic, accounts for over two-thirds of the global market. Production of sorghum and millet in 2019 was reportedly 36 percent below the record 2018 output of 14 million tons, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Wheat production in 2019 was roughly 600 million tons and is expected to double in 2020. Sudan has 166 million heads of livestock, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment
Despite the legal protections guaranteed under the National Investment Encouragement Act of 2013, there are foreign investment restrictions in the transportation sector, specifically in railway, freight transportation, inland waterways barge service, and airport operations. Most telecommunications and media, including television broadcasting and newspaper publishing, are closed to foreign capital participation. Foreign ownership is also restricted in the electrical power generation and financial services sectors. In addition to those overt statutory ownership restrictions, a comparatively large number of sectors are dominated by government monopolies, including those mentioned above. Such monopolies, together with a high perceived difficulty of obtaining required operating licenses, make it more difficult for foreign companies to invest.
Other Investment Policy Reviews
Sudan has not undergone any third-party investment policy reviews (IPR) through the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization (WTO), or the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in the last five years. UNCTAD’s last IPR of Sudan was in 2015. The last International Monetary Fund (IMF) Article IV Executive Board Consultation was on February 21, 2020. The IMF concluded that regime change “created a window of opportunity for fundamental reforms to address major macro imbalances and lay the groundwork for inclusive growth.” The IMF noted there exists broad agreement between the government and the IMF about Sudan’s reform priorities but found “the authorities have yet to put together a fully coherent and viable plan that enjoys broad public support and can plausibly attract adequate donor financing.” https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/CR/Issues/2020/03/10/Sudan-2019-Article-IV-Consultation-Press-Release-Staff-Report-and-Statement-by-the-Executive-49254 .
The World Bank and IMF provide technical assistance to Sudan. World Bank projects in Sudan total USD 181 million.
Facing a severe foreign exchange reserves shortage, the CLTG tightened conversion and transfer policies. Domestic businesses have no assurance of obtaining needed levels of foreign currency for international transactions. The transitional civilian government strictly controls incoming hard currency from exports and business owners wishing to retrieve cash can only make withdrawals denominated in Sudanese pounds at the time of this report. Foreign companies operating in Sudan must have the Central Bank of Sudan’s permission to repatriate profits and foreign currency. The Investment Act of 2013 enshrines the right to repatriate capital and profits, provided the investor has opened an investment account at the Central Bank of Sudan before entering into business. To avoid banking delays, many Sudanese firms complete a significant amount of transactions outside of official channels or complete transactions abroad in U.S. Dollars, Euros, Riyals, or Dirhams. Whether or not the government will revise its practices to ensure a steady stream of foreign exchange once international correspondent banking resumes remains to be seen. The Investment Act also established courts to handle investment issues and disputes.
The gap between the black market and official exchange rates has widened since publication of the previous report. The official rate set by the government is 55:1, while the parallel market rate has reached 130:1 (as of May 1, 2020). The government increased the official rate to 55:1 in March 2020 in an effort to unify exchange rates. Nonetheless, this divergence adds to the difficulty and complexity of settling accounts and repatriating profits and foreign exchange. While Sudanese and foreigners are permitted to hold foreign currency accounts in private commercial banks, access to the currency can be delayed and/or limited without prior notification. Individuals and businesses often resort to obtaining hard currency on the black market. Local businesses may avoid holding significant cash in domestic deposit accounts altogether. Sudan’s inflation rate as of March 2020 was 81 percent, up from 71 percent in February and 64 percent in January. The rise in inflation has been attributed to price increases of food commodities, devaluation of the Sudanese currency, and shrinking imports.
According to UNCTAD, Sudan has put in place a relatively open investment legislative framework and many laws are in line with good practices. However, their implementation is often impeded by the absence of secondary legislation, insufficient institutional capacity, and lack of coordination between different levels of government. https://investmentpolicy.unctad.org/investment-policy-review/205/sudan
Sudan’s investment authority lists the process by which businesses must register to operate at: http://www.sudaninvest.org/English/Default.htm . The website outlines procedures for companies that wish to invest, including forming and ending relationships and license applications. There is no online business registration process.
Sudan tasks its investment authority with facilitating local and foreign investments. Some U.S. companies have sent exploratory teams to Sudan to test the waters and its investment climate. The host government has given warm receptions to U.S. investors, although some existing investors expressed concern about lack of payment for certain contracts signed prior to the CLTG. Sudan does not restrict domestic investors from investing abroad. http://www.sudaninvest.org/English/Invest-Services.htm
2. Bilateral Investment Agreements and Taxation Treaties
Sudan has 30 signed bilateral investment agreements – specifically with Algeria, Bahrain, Belarus, the Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union, Bulgaria, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Morocco, the Netherlands, Oman, Qatar, Romania, South Africa, Switzerland, the Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. https://investmentpolicy.unctad.org/international-investment-agreements/countries/199/sudan
Sudan does not have a bilateral taxation treaty with the United States.
3. Legal Regime
Transparency of the Regulatory System
Some ministries and regulatory agencies distribute the text or summary of proposed regulations before their enactment to interested stakeholders but are under no legal obligation to do so. There is no set period of time by law for the text of the proposed regulations to be publicly available. Some agencies make received comments publicly accessible. There is no specialized government body or department tasked with soliciting and receiving these comments. Some ministries and agencies report on the results of the consultation on proposed regulations in the form of one consolidated response in an official gazette, journal, or other publication or directly distributed to interested stakeholders. This reporting on the results of the consultation is not required by law. https://rulemaking.worldbank.org/en/data/explorecountries/sudan# . There is no centralized online location where key regulatory actions are published. https://rulemaking.worldbank.org/en/data/explorecountries/sudan# .
International Regulatory Considerations
Sudan ranks 157 out of 190 for starting a limited liability company in the World Bank’s 2020 Ease of Doing Business rankings. A company typically must register with the Commercial Registrar, taxation chambers, labor authorities, Social Insurance Fund, and the Sudan Currency Printing Press Company. In total, business registration typically takes an estimated 34.5 days. http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/441871575346787051/pdf/Doing-Business-2020-Comparing-Business-Regulation-in-190-Economies-Economy-Profile-of-Sudan.pdf . The report noted that the number of procedures and the amount of time it takes to register a business are higher than the sub-Saharan Africa average.
Legal System and Judicial Independence
Sudan follows British Common law practices, Islamic Law, and customary law in some cases. Contracts are enforced through the courts. Sudan has written commercial and contractual laws. Business regulations or enforcement actions are appealable and are adjudicated in the national court system. The Investment Act of 2013 established courts to handle disputes.
Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment
Sudan’s investment authority lists the process by which businesses much register to operate at: http://www.sudaninvest.org/English/Default.htm . The website outlines procedures for companies that wish to invest, including forming and ending relationships and license applications. There is not an online business registration process.
Competition and Anti-Trust Laws
Sudan’s contract awards system is opaque. We do not have information to identify which agencies review transactions for competition-related concerns (whether domestic or international in nature).
Expropriation and Compensation
The government controls most of the agricultural land in Sudan and has sold millions of acres to Saudi Arabia and other countries. Land laws have historically been an issue of dispute between local communities and the government and are the source of conflict. The most recent examples of government expropriations were those of the authorities prior to 2019 under the Bashir regime bulldozing churches and selling the land to private investors. The government claimed the churches did not have permits. Some churches remained in the same location for decades without permits because the government would not issue them. The government claimed the churches had no legal right and were simply squatting on the land. According to the law, for eminent domain claims, the government should have compensated the churches. That did not happen in all cases. Government and Arab militias’ expropriation of land in Darfur, Gedaref, and Kassala states without compensation were reported. In some cases, displaced persons returned to their land only to be denied access. In most instances, the government did not adequately respond to appeals.
ICSID Convention and New York Convention
Sudan has been a member of the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States since 1973. Sudan became a member of the New York Convention of 1958 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards in 2018.
International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts
The Sudanese Arbitration Act of 2016 codifies Sudan’s role in arbitration. “Application of the Act: Subject to the provisions of international agreements, pertaining to arbitration, to which Sudan is a party: 1) the provisions of this Act shall apply to every arbitration conducted in the Sudan, or abroad, where the parties thereof have agreed to subject the same to the provisions of this Act whenever the legal relation is of a civil nature, whether contractual or non-contractual…” https://www.international-arbitration-attorney.com/wp…/Sudan-Arbitration-Law.pdf
The World Bank ranks Sudan 152 of 190 countries for ease of resolving insolvency. It has a recovery rate of 30.2 cents on the dollar for creditors with an average timeline of two years and a cost of 20 percent of the value of the debtor’s estate to recover the debt. http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/441871575346787051/Doing-Business-2020-Comparing-Business-Regulation-in-190-Economies-Economy-Profile-of-Sudan . Sudan has the Bankruptcy Act of 1929.
4. Industrial Policies
The Sudanese government lists the following investment incentives:
- Exemption from taxes on profits for a term of not less than ten years;
- Free land or land at an incentivized price for the project;
- Nondiscriminatory treatment of the capital of investment, whether be it public, private, cooperative, or multi-sector capital;
- Guarantees the capital shall not to be nationalized, confiscated, or expropriated except through a law and against indemnity;
- Guarantees that money invested in a project shall not be confiscated or frozen, except through a judicial order;
- Recognition that the investor is entitled to transfer his or her money and profits; and
- Customs privileges for vehicles.
Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation
The Free Zones and Free Markets Law of 1994 governs such zones. The investment authority reports that projects in areas designated as Free Trade Zones and Duty Free Zones enjoy the following policies:
- Exemption from a tax on profits for 15 years, renewable for an extra period;
- Exemption from personal income tax for salaries of expatriates;
- Exemption from all customs fees and taxes except service fees for products imported into or exported abroad from the zone;
- Exemption from all taxes and fees for real estate inside the zone;
- Authorization to transfer invested capital and profits from Sudan abroad through any bank licensed to operate in the zone;
- Exemption from customs fees for products of industrial projects established in the zones depending on materials used and local costs incurred in production and provided the value be estimated by a designated committee;
- Guarantees that money invested in the zones may not be frozen, confiscated, or arrested;
- Authorization to store goods transiting Sudan in zones under the supervision of customs police; and
- Authorization to rent its land and buildings according to the terms it agrees upon and without being bound by any other law.
5. Protection of Property Rights
Sudan ranked 95 out of 190 for ease of registering property in the World Bank’s index. Sudan has six procedures required to legally transfer title on immovable property taking a total of 11 days and at a cost of 2.6 percent of property value. The World Bank gave Sudan a rating of 5.5 out of 30 for quality of land administration (e.g., reliability of infrastructure, land dispute resolution). http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/441871575346787051/pdf/Doing-Business-2020-Comparing-Business-Regulation-in-190-Economies-Economy-Profile-of-Sudan.pdf
Intellectual Property Rights
The legislative framework on intellectual property rights (IPR) is adequate, but enforcement remains uneven. Trademarks of popular American businesses, usually chain restaurants, are often used or changed slightly to suggest the original brand. Many grocery and hardware stores display American name-brand products shipped from Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. Sudan is not listed in the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) 2020 Special 301 report or the 2019 Notorious Markets List. Sudan is in the accession process to join the World Trade Organization (WTO), and is not currently a party to the WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Sudan is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). For additional information about national laws and points of contact at local IP offices, please see the s WIPO country profiles at https://www.wipo.int/directory/en/details.jsp?country_code=SD .
6. Financial Sector
Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment
Sudan has a stock market (KSE) which is located in Khartoum. The KSE has over 60 companies (http://www.kse.com.sd/ ) that include Sudanese Animal Resources Company, Financial Investment Bank, and Blue Nile Insurance. Since 2018, there have been two more companies listed in the Industry sector, 11 more companies listed in the Investment and Development sector, and four more companies listed in the Telecom and Media sectors. The total market value of all sectors is currently listed as 8,684,351,734,000 SDG (USD 157,897,304,255). http://www.kse.com.sd/Pages/default.aspx?c=550&sid=1
Money and Banking System
Historically, Sudan has not had access to international banking institutions as it was under comprehensive U.S. economic and financial sanctions until late 2017. Despite lifting of these comprehensive sanctions, international banks remain wary of operating in Sudan due to reputation risk associated with Sudan’s continued designation as a state sponsor of terrorism. Most foreign banks operating in Sudan are based in Gulf states, such as Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, or Qatar. Sudan faces a monetary crisis, with limited foreign exchange and a significant currency black market. The Central Bank of Sudan lists banks operating in Sudan at: https://cbos.gov.sd/en/content/operating-banks-sudan
Foreign Exchange and Remittances
Remittances come into Sudan via the informal market. International banking institutions have not begun transactions with Sudan although U.S. financial sanctions have been lifted. Foreign investors should be aware that they might face problems making or receiving payments. The exchange rate is determined by the Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance. The official exchange rate does not float with the international markets. However, the vast majority of transactions in Sudan are determined by the parallel market rate (130 SDG: 1 USD), currently at more than double the official rate (55 SDG: 1 USD).
Sovereign Wealth Funds
Sudan has a sovereign wealth fund called the Oil Revenue Stabilization Account, established in 2008. The Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) ranked it 32 out of 34 funds in its 2017 Resource Governance Index.
7. State-Owned Enterprises
The exact number of state-owned enterprises is unknown, although government officials acknowledge that the defense and security agencies may control over 100 companies. The NRGI ranked the state-owned Sudanese Petroleum Corporation (SPC) 69 out of 84 SOEs in its 2017 Resource Governance Index. NRGI assessed that though the SPC discloses sufficient information about joint ventures and subsidiaries, it is opaque in its commodity sales, production, and government transfers. Other areas for improvement included financial reporting and corporate governance.
8. Responsible Business Conduct
Sudan’s Investment Law (National Investment Encouragement Act, 1999, Amended (2013)) sets the standards for business conduct and obligations. The law and its executive rules are applied to both Sudanese and foreign investors. The investment authority maintains oversight for “responsible business conduct” and provides information on regulations, services, and the various departments to which the investor could contact on its website: http://www.sudaninvest.org/English/About-Ministry.htm . The investment authority also developed a “one-stop-shop” for information on land, customs, taxes, commercial registration, and agriculture among others. The law under its Chapter 6 “Privileges and Guarantees” and Chapter 8 “General Rules” commits the government to “non-nationalization or non-confiscation of projects.” Sudan’s Investment Council and Specialized Court create the regulations and are the bodies which settle overlapping issues. Sudan makes available an ombudsman at its Public Grievance Chamber (www.ombudsman.gov.sd ). The Sudanese Constitution (1998) first established the General Ombudsman body. In 2011, Chapter V, Article 147 (1) of the Constitution (2011) established the Public Grievances Chamber. The Ombudsman’s office explains its complaint process and other information online. Corruption in the supply chain for commodities and minerals within the major cities and in the conflict-affected areas remains a concern.
Sudan falls short of consistently strong supply chain due diligence. For example, while the government takes positive steps through its Ministry of Animal Resources (http://mar.gov.sd/en/index.php/departments/view_dept/2 ) to outline regulations for implementation of livestock and fisheries administration, it does not, through its Ministry of Energy and Mining prohibit the harmful use of cyanide or other dangerous chemicals in gold mining operations. In fact, the government and private companies use cyanide in gold extraction. Sudan is neither an EITI member country nor participates in the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights.
The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials; nevertheless, government corruption at all levels was widespread. The Bashir regime made a few efforts to enforce legislation aimed at preventing and prosecuting corruption. According to the World Bank’s most recent Worldwide Governance Indicators, corruption was a severe problem. The law provides the legislative framework for addressing official corruption, but implementation under the Bashir regime was weak, and many punishments were lenient. Officials found guilty of corrupt acts could often avoid jail time if they returned ill-gotten funds. Under the Bashir regime, journalists who reported on government corruption were sometimes intimidated, detained, and interrogated by security services.
A special anticorruption attorney investigated and prosecuted corruption cases involving officials, their spouses, and their children. Punishments for embezzlement include imprisonment or execution for public service workers, although these were almost never carried out. All bank employees were considered public-service workers. Under the Bashir regime, media reporting on corruption was considered a “red line” set by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) and a topic that authorities, for the most part, prohibited newspapers from covering (see section 2.a. of link below). While reporting on corruption was no longer a red line under the CLTG, media continued to practice self-censorship on issues related to corruption. In August 2019, Omar Bashir was formally indicted on charges of corruption and illegal possession of foreign currency. Bashir’s trial began in August 2019; in December 2019, he was convicted and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment on these charges. Other more serious charges are pending.
Financial Disclosure: Under the Bashir regime, the law required high-ranking officials to publicly disclose income and assets. There were no clear sanctions for noncompliance, although the former Anti-Corruption Commission possessed discretionary powers to punish violators. The Financial Disclosure and Inspection Committee and the Unlawful and Suspicious Enrichment Administration at the Ministry of Justice both monitored compliance. Despite three different bodies ostensibly charged with monitoring financial disclosure regulations, there was no effective enforcement or prosecution of offenders.
The 2019 constitutional declaration includes financial disclosure and prohibition of commercial activity provisions for members of the Sovereign Council and Council of Ministers, state and regional governors, and members of the Transitional Legislative Council. It also mandates an Anti-Corruption and Restoration of Stolen Wealth Commission.
Resources to Report Corruption
High Anti-Corruption and Regime Dismantling Committee
Consultant on Sudan
Center for International Private Enterprise
1211 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 700, Washington, D.C. 20036
10. Political and Security Environment
While there have been civil disturbances and political violence associated with the protests against the Bashir regime and the declining economy, damage to property has not been directed specifically at U.S. business interests. The 30-year Bashir regime was ousted in April 2019 after months of massive protests against the deteriorating economic situation. After brief rule by the Transitional Military Council (TMC), the constitutional declaration was signed in August 2019, and the CLTG led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok took office in September 2019. This transitional government has a 39-month mandate to establish basic democratic institutions and hold elections. Despite government efforts to resolve high inflation, exchange rate disparities, and fuel and bread shortages, these issues remain concerns and potential investors should take note.
11. Labor Policies and Practices
The law provides that employees of companies with more than 100 workers can form and join independent unions. Other employees can join preexisting unions. The law establishes a single national trade union federation and excludes police, military personnel, prison employees, legal advisers in the Justice Ministry, and judges from membership. In some cases, membership in international unions was not officially recognized.
The TMC dissolved all trade unions and associations in April 2019 but restored the right to form unions on May 22, 2019. On November 26, 2019, the CLTG dissolved all trade unions and associations as part of its effort to dismantle the remnants of the Bashir regime. The CLTG encouraged the formation of new trade unions, although amended laws are still being drafted by authorities. According to industry leaders, the High Anti-Corruption and Regime Dismantling Committee appointed steering committees to guide activities in the different sectors on an interim basis until new unions are formed. These steering committees remain in operation.
The unskilled labor market is plentiful. There are many workers from Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Syria.
12. U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and Other Investment Insurance Programs
There is no DFC agreement between Sudan and the United States.
13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics
|Host Country Statistical source*||USG or international statistical source||USG or International Source of Data: BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other|
|Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD)||N/A||N/A||2018||$40,852|| https://data.worldbank.org/
|Foreign Direct Investment||Host Country Statistical source*||USG or international statistical source||USG or international Source of data: BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other|
|U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions)||N/A||N/A||2018||$0||BEA data available at https://www.bea.gov/international/
|Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions)||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||BEA data available at https://www.bea.gov/international/
|Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP||N/A||N/A||2018||18.2%||UNCTAD data available at
* Source for Host Country Data
Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI
Data not available.
Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment
Data not available.
14. Contact for More Information