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No significant improvements in trade and investment conditions occurred during the past year in South Sudan, however major changes in the political and economic situation have led to stronger messaging by the U.S. Government on the risks of doing business in South Sudan. The Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGoNU) continued to implement the 2018 Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) at a glacial pace, ultimately delaying the transitional period by another two years from February 2023 to February 2025 in an August 4, 2022 announcement. As a result, South Sudan’s leaders again extended their time in power despite failing to deliver on peace commitments, including on a number of public financial management reforms to address endemic corruption and improve the transparency of government-managed projects. Since the beginning of 2023, the Ministry of Finance and Planning has launched a new website in English with a section on public financial management (PFM). In a positive step, the website includes a number of financial documents related to government budgeting, revenue, appropriations, and debt, although many documents were incomplete, unclear, or not current, and few pertained to the oil sector, which accounts for the vast majority of South Sudan’s economy. Lack of progress on political, financial, and judicial reforms mean that the economy operates without critical mechanisms for business or investment, including a permanent constitution, a capable and operational Anti-Corruption Commission, a functional Financial Intelligence Unit, updated and enacted revenue management legislation, and a rule-of-law based impartial judicial system. The lack of these mechanisms enables corrupt actors to engage in nontransparent behavior and increases the risk to companies for conducting business in South Sudan.

Despite the slow progress on reform by the transitional government, on March 1, the International Monetary Fund approved a $114 million Food Shock Window rapid credit facility (RCF) most of which was directed to the transitional government’s foreign reserves. The RCF, nominally intended to slow down a worsening food insecurity problem, has also largely failed to stabilize the South Sudanese Pound (SSP), which has been steadily depreciating since May 2022. The limited progress on public financial reform, and the transitional government’s extension of the transitional period beyond February 2023 and securing support from the IMF in March 2023 has permitted South Sudan’s leaders added opportunity to engage in opaque or corrupt deals.

South Sudan’s economy is nearly entirely dependent on oil-revenue. Recently released data posted on the Ministry of Finance’s website indicated approximately $1.6 billion in annual oil revenue under current exchange rates. According to a February 2023 report by The Sentry, a three-year investigation into a loan deal between a local company and a regional bank, with the backing of the South Sudanese government, uncovered red flags for illicit business practices, including bribery, tax evasion, and trade-based money laundering. In June 2022, Anglo-Swiss company Glencore pled guilty to seven counts of bribery worth a combined $29 million to gain access to oil in five African countries, including South Sudan but is still operating in South Sudan. The transitional government did not institute any new programs in the past year to diversify the country’s economy. South Sudan’s oil sector is fraught with corruption, mismanagement of resources, and lack of transparency. The country’s oil-producing firms and the Ministry of Petroleum remain on the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) Entity List . The U.S. government assesses the 15 entities BIS added to the Entity List contributed to the ongoing crisis in South Sudan “because they are a source of substantial revenue that, through public corruption, is used to fund the purchase of weapons and other material that undermine the peace, security, and stability of South Sudan rather than support the welfare of the South Sudanese people.”

Corruption and malfeasance extend beyond the oil sector. Transparency International ranked South Sudan the country with the world’s worst public sector corruption in its 2021 rankings  and tied for second worst in 2022. Additionally, the 2023 Report of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan (advance edited version) highlighted the link between South Sudan’s human rights violations and economic crimes.

Humanitarian and development aid is a major source of employment. The difficulties humanitarian service providers face, including arbitrary and conflicting regulations, multiple layers of taxation, airport and border obstructions, labor harassment, and looting of warehouses, demonstrate what private investors can expect to encounter. South Sudan remains the most dangerous place in the world for humanitarian aid workers, with at least 10 humanitarian aid workers, contractors, and volunteers killed between January and March 24, 2023.

The legal system is underfunded, dysfunctional, and subject to corrupt practices and interference. Government entities do not enforce laws equitably or consistently. Corrupt government officials operate with impunity. The legal framework governing investment and private enterprises remains underdeveloped. Contract dispute litigants are sometimes arrested and imprisoned until they agree to pay a financial settlement even when never charged with an offense or brought to court.

Other factors inhibiting investment in South Sudan include a lack of skilled and unskilled labor and limited physical infrastructure riddled with arbitrary checkpoints. A September 2022 report identified banks, financial institutions, and individuals with ties to South Sudan enabling “state theft.”

The U.S. Department of State maintains a ‘Do Not Travel’ Advisory for South Sudan due to crime, kidnapping, and armed conflict.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2022 178 of 180 (tied with Syria, ahead of Somalia)
Global Innovation Index 2022 N/A of 132
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2022 N/A  
World Bank GNI per capita 2015 1,040   

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

The Ministry of Investment stablished directorates to manage administration and finance, research and planning, investment promotion, service, and investment coordination at the state level.

The government has identified priority sectors for investment such as agriculture, transport infrastructure, petroleum, mining, and energy, but has not developed effective incentives to attract investors.

In theory the Ministry of Investment has a One Stop Shop Investment Center, but it is poorly resourced and does not maintain an active website. The ministries that handle company registration include the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Investment, Ministry of Finance and Planning, and Ministry of Justice. There is no single window registration process, and an investor must visit all the above-mentioned agencies to complete the registration of a company. The registration process can take several months with companies routinely approached to provide bribes to move the process forward. Because registering a business in South Sudan is a lengthy, laborious process involving multiple national, state, and local entities, the Chamber of Commerce recommends hiring a local lawyer to register a business.

South Sudan is a member of the African Trade and Insurance Agency , which provides export insurance and other assistance to foreign investors and traders. Local lawyers, some of whom are listed in the Legal Assistance section of the U.S. Embassy Juba website, are willing to advise investors and guide them through the registration process, for a fee. South Sudan’s Chamber of Commerce is government-run with a government-employed director and private business chairpersons whose business interests are linked to government contracts. There is no ombudsman.

Foreign investors continue to report unfair practices including expropriation of assets, unpredictable tax policies, harassment by security services, extortion attempts, and inconsistent results in legal proceedings and labor disputes.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

Years of conflict and internal displacement have left a complex land rights picture with many properties occupied by squatters or soldiers. Land-based ventures often encounter pre-existing ownership claims and, therefore, claims on royalties or rents. There is no title insurance and no formal way to determine ownership outside of current possession. Under the 2009 Southern Sudan Land Act (which was enacted before independence but has not been amended and therefore still applies), non-citizens may lease – not own – land in South Sudan. Under the Tax Exemptions and Concessions schedule of the 2009 Investment Promotion Act, foreign investors may lease agricultural land for 30-60 years with the possibility of renewal while mining leases shall not exceed the life of the mine or quarry.

The 2012 South Sudan Companies Act allows non-South Sudanese to invest in medium and large companies on the condition a South Sudanese national has at least a 31 percent share. Government officials will not issue a business license to a foreign investor without a local shareholder. Foreign companies that want to establish a subsidiary in South Sudan are not subject to local shareholder requirements. Private security companies operating in South Sudan must have a South Sudanese citizen hold a 51 percent share of the company pursuant to the 2013 Private Security Companies Rules and Regulations. Extractives sector companies must have a South Sudanese national as part owner, but the exact percentage of ownership required is unclear.

According to the 2009 Investment Act, foreign investors must apply for an investment certificate from the Ministry of Investment to ensure the project will benefit South Sudan’s society and economy. The government does not make public statements about how it screens applications. Investors must rely on the Act’s language. The Ministry of Investment began issuing a new type of investment certificate in February 2022 citing malpractices and forgeries with older versions.

The Third Schedule of the 2009 Investment Act states South Sudanese will receive preferential treatment if they invest in micro-enterprises, postal services, car hire and taxi operations, public relations, retail, security services, and cooperative services.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

The East African Community conducted an investment policy review for South Sudan in 2016. South Sudan is yet to harmonize its internal laws to conform to the East African Community plans for regional integration. South Sudan has not ratified the Africa Free Trade Agreement.

Business Facilitation

An investor looking to establish a business in South Sudan may spend months interacting with the Ministries of Investment, Justice, Trade and Industry, and Finance and Planning. Private companies report experiences of long delays, bureaucratic holdups, and administrative challenges in interactions with the government. The 2009 Investment Promotion Act requires the Ministry of Investment to create a “One Stop Shop” investment center, but there is still no active website for this center. The Ministry of Justice established a business registration website ( ) in 2021 offered through the government’s broader  platform, although it remains to be seen how effective this new registration process is. Investors may still need to hire a local lawyer to register a business.

Outward Investment

South Sudan does not have a formal mechanism to promote or incentivize outward investment nor does it restrict domestic investors from investing abroad. However, due to the lack of banking services, it is difficult for investors to move money outside the country.

South Sudan signed bilateral investment treaties (BIT) with Morocco in 2017 and the United Arab Emirates in 2019 and a non-BIT economic cooperation agreement with Saudi Arabia in 2022. As of March 2023, none of these have entered into force.

In November 2018, South Africa’s Central Energy Fund and South Sudan’s Nile Petroleum Corporation signed a non-BIT agreement with South Africa pledging USD one billion for oil exploration and construction of a refinery. South Africa delayed commencing the project in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Undersecretary of South Sudan’s Petroleum Ministry announced in November 2021 the project would restart. Post is not aware of any updates since November 2021 on the project, and it is yet unclear what the parties are currently doing to implement the agreement.

South Sudan does not have a bilateral taxation treaty with the United States nor does it have a tax agreement with any other countries. In practice, business owners can be subject to a range of arbitrary taxes from a variety of levels of authority. South Sudan is not a member of the OECD Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting.

Transparency of the Regulatory System

Opening a business can be especially challenging for foreigners trying to navigate the bureaucratic system without the assistance of a well-connected national.
The private sector is governed by a mix of legacy pre-independence laws from Sudan and post-independence South Sudan laws. South Sudan has no securities exchange or publicly listed companies. Post-independence, the national legislature passed laws to improve the transparency of the regulatory system, including the 2012 Companies Act and the 2012 Banking Act. However, enforcement regulations and mechanisms are inadequate and there is little transparency.

The national legislature historically passed most bills and regulations without public comment or quantitative analysis. It did not adequately disseminate finalized laws publicly. This trend continues with the Transitional Legislative Assembly (TNLA). . Most government ministries and agencies do not hold notice and comment periods before finalizing regulations. There is no centralized online platform for publishing regulatory actions similar to the U.S. Federal Register. A notable exception is the Bank of South Sudan  (BoSS), which lists banking regulations on its website. While the BoSS website is now functioning and includes a number of publicly available documents on regulations and licensing, many of these publications are outdated (there are no regulations available post-dating 2019). By comparison, and in a show of progress since 2022, the Ministry of Finance and Planning launched a redesign of its website in April 2023 that includes more than 50 publicly available financial documents  ranging from annual budgets to fiscal reports to strategy papers.

South Sudan’s 2011 Public Finance and Accountability Act requires budget documents to comply with International Public Sector Accounting Standards, but published documents often do not comply and therefore are difficult to decipher. While the legislature passed a fiscal year 2022/2023 budget with a 560 billion South Sudanese pound deficit (approximately USD $659 million at April 2023 exchange rates). A public hearing on the budget did take place in 2022, the first of which since 2019. The budget was also passed around the same time the President of South Sudan removed the finance minister and central bank governor without explanation. Sudden changes in leadership create further challenges for continuity in financial management and consistency across implementation.

The oil sector attracts the most FDI, but transparency is absent, despite statutory reporting requirements. The Ministry of Finance and Planning does not share foreign debt data at an institutional level and does not release it to the public. However, under pressure by the Public Financial Management Oversight Committee (PFM-OC), the South Sudan external debt was published on its website on June 23, 2022, at .

The government occasionally releases limited debt obligation information about certain infrastructure loans, but to date has not disclosed the amount of oil it has committed to pay for infrastructure projects. This makes it difficult for analysts to determine how much money the government has available to service debt and pay for public services. An Oil for Roads program signed in 2019 in theory allocates oil revenues to firms to build roads across the country, but the results have fallen far short of the resources allocated. Road construction is South Sudan is notorious for corrupt deals, many involving U.S.-sanctioned businessmen and entities. In a December 2022 report, the UN Panel of Experts recommended the government manage the Oil for Roads program through the ordinary budget process to ensure greater transparency in use of public funds. The recommendation follows findings that the government received USD $535 million in oil revenues during FY21/22, that did not appear in the treasury’s accounts.

The contract process for oil companies that are planning to bid and invest in South Sudan is controlled by the Ministry of Petroleum, but paragraph 11 of the 2012 Petroleum Act says the National Petroleum and Gas Commission is empowered to approve all petroleum agreements on behalf of the government and ensure that they are consistent with the Act. Bidding and tender information is not publicly available.

There are no known informal regulatory processes managed by NGOs or private sector associations that would affect U.S. investors. National and state bodies are the main source of regulation, but county and sub-county level officials also impose regulations. NGOs regularly report discrepancies between tax, labor, and import rules issued by the national government and those enforced by local authorities. Humanitarian service providers moving goods earmarked for humanitarian relief claim state officials have occasionally barred them entry at state borders. Tax collection and enforcement at the state level is limited, uneven, and unpredictable. The Ministry of Labor has not conducted labor inspections since they were suspended in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In previous inspections, NGOs and foreign investors reported employees colluded with labor inspectors to extort fines from business managers. In February 2023, the National Revenue Authority announced an 18 percent sales tax on commissions for financial services but there is a lot of public confusion as to how this tax applies. In a March 16 PFM-OC meeting, the NRA Commissioner General clarified that the 18 percent sales tax is levied against bank commissions, not withdrawals, but acknowledged continued challenges for financial inclusion among citizens.

Non-oil tax revenue increased dramatically in 2021, 2022 and 2023 as South Sudan improved its collection methods for personal income tax and customs revenue. Some months saw a 100 percent year-over-year increase suggesting prior revenue collection efforts were corrupt, inept, or both. Much of this improvement is due to public financial management (PFM) reforms aimed at strengthening the National Revenue Authority.

Despite significant PFM reforms, the government did not announce or implement new enforcement reforms in 2022. The legislative body does not provide effective administrative compliance oversight of government ministers nor do ministries or agencies adequately regulate one another. There were no significant corruption prosecutions in 2022.

International Regulatory Considerations

South Sudan is not a WTO member but joined the African Union in 2012 and the East African Community (EAC) in April 2016. It is currently behind in membership payments to both and has occasionally had its voting rights temporarily suspended. The Ministry of East African Community Affairs is responsible for integration into the EAC. South Sudan is adapting its national regulatory system to regional standards. It joined the customs union of the EAC but is behind in implementing regulations, prompting the EAC in February 2022 to urge the government to fully implement the EAC’s Single Customs Territory to boost intra-regional trade. The National Revenue Authority assists in implementing EAC customs regulations and procedures.

South Sudan currently has nine members in the EAC parliament with five of them coming from the ruling party, Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM).

Legal System and Judicial Independence

U.S. companies seeking to invest in South Sudan face a complex commercial environment with weak legal enforcement mechanisms. Large U.S. and multinational companies may have enough leverage to extricate themselves from business disputes, but medium-sized enterprises (the more natural counterparts to South Sudan’s fledgling business community) do not.

South’s Sudan’s legal system is a combination of statutory and customary laws. There are no dedicated commercial courts and no effective arbitration bodies to handle business disputes. The only official means of settling disputes between private parties is civil court. Enforcement of judgements and awards is weak or nonexistent, leading businesses to seek informal mediation, including through private lawyers, tribal elders, law enforcement officials, and business organizations. Corrupt practices are widespread and undermine pending cases. The lack of a unified, formal judicial system encourages “forum shopping” by businesses motivated to find the venue in which they can achieve the most favorable outcome.

As an East African Community (EAC) member, South Sudan is subject to the jurisdiction of the East African Court of Justice (EACJ). The EAC treaty gives the EACJ broad jurisdiction including trade disputes and human rights violations. However, the court only reviews 40 cases annually and results for South Sudanese legal community have been inconclusive. Hope for Humanity Africa, an advocacy group, sued the government in the EACJ in June 2021 over oil waste mismanagement that allegedly caused health and environmental damage. The EACJ allowed the government to resolve the case through mediation, although there have not been any published results of the mediation.

The executive branch regularly interferes with the work of the judicial branch. State security forces arrest and detain parties to business disputes without charging them with a crime. Security forces continue often detain the party until it agrees to make a payment as directed to “resolve” the case. High-level government and military officials are immune from prosecution in practice and frequently interfere with court decisions.

Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment

Foreign investors face a lack of transparency and capacity in South Sudan’s legal system as well as inconsistent laws and regulations. Most foreign direct investment rules can be found in the 2009 Land Act, the 2009 Investment Promotion Act, and the 2012 Companies Act. The relevant ministries do not have implementing regulations or they do not publish them for public review. The Ministry of Justice has a business registration, but a foreign investor may still need local counsel to register the business and obtain an investment certificate. The business registration e-service is advertised as “a platform introduced by the Ministry of Justice to automate manual processes, increase accessibility to its services, and improve the ease of doing business in South Sudan.” Local counsel charge $1,000 for services one to two weeks before the certificates (incorporation, tax clearance, chamber of commerce membership and operations license) are made available. This amount surpasses amounts charged for similar services in other countries in the region.

Competition and Antitrust Laws

South Sudan does not review transactions for competition-related concerns. There were no significant changes to this in 2022.

Expropriation and Compensation

Investors should be prepared to face a complex commercial environment with a weak civil justice system in which contract disputes are common and often resolved without due process.

The 2009 Investment Promotion Act prohibits nationalization of private enterprises unless the expropriation is in the national interest for a public purpose. The Act does not define the terms “national interest” or “public purpose.” According to the Act, expropriation must be in accordance with due process and provide fair and adequate compensation, which is ultimately determined by local domestic courts.

While some donor agreements call for the government to receive goods at the conclusion of a project, local government officials have seized assets even without a formal agreement and did not offer compensation for the expropriated property.

Although officially denied, credible reports from humanitarian aid agencies indicate both government and opposition forces routinely extort money at checkpoints throughout the country before allowing the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Dispute Settlement

International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) Convention and New York Convention

South Sudan signed and ratified the ISCID Convention on April 18, 2012, and it entered into force on May 18, 2012. South Sudan is not a signatory to the convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (1958 New York Convention).

There is no specific domestic legislation that enforces awards under the ICSID convention.

Investor-State Dispute Settlement

South Sudan is not a signatory to a treaty or investment agreement that recognizes binding international arbitration.

South Sudan does not have a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) or Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States.

Numerous private companies claim the government has reneged on or delayed payment for work under contract in recent years.


International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts

There are no official arbitration bodies in South Sudan.

South Sudan lacks any dedicated legal framework to enforce foreign judgments, including arbitral awards. South Sudan is subject to the jurisdiction of the East African Court of Justice (EACJ), which can hear trade disputes, but the impact of judgments on South Sudanese law have been inconclusive.

When state-owned entities are involved in contract disputes, foreign litigants complain of harassment and arbitrary treatment from law enforcement and judicial officials.

Bankruptcy Regulations

The 2011 Insolvency Act provides for both personal and corporate bankruptcies. Given the lack of commercial courts, there is little information available about the rights of creditors in practice.

Investment Incentives

The 2009 Investment Promotion Act provides tax exemptions ranging from 20 to 100 percent of the cost of eligible research and capital expenditures, deductible annual allowances ranging from 20 to 40 percent of the cost of certain equipment, and depreciation allowances on certain assets ranging from 8 to 10 percent. A foreign tax credit is available to any resident company paying foreign taxes on income from business activities outside South Sudan. In practice, the exact incentive structure is unclear due to irregular enforcement.

The Ministry of Finance and Planning has the legal authority to approve tax exemptions.

The government previously used future oil deliveries to attract finance and contract foreign direct investment projects, but in 2021 the Council of Ministers agreed to cease this practice as part of reforms it agreed to with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. However, due to a lack of transparency in government procurement and finance, it is unclear to what extent the country’s oil production has already been leveraged through past decisions collateralized against future oil production.

There are currently no special incentives for businesses owned by underrepresented investors such as women.

According to the World Bank, only 7.2 percent of South Sudan’s population has access to electricity. There has been some modest progress in expanding electrification in Juba, but effectively nowhere else. The government does not offer incentive for clean energy investment and in early 2022 had a land dispute with a solar company looking to invest in South Sudan causing delays and possible future cancelation of the project.

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation

South Sudan has not established any free trade zones.

Performance and Data Localization Requirements

The 2017 Labor Act requires 80 percent of staff at different levels of management to be South Sudanese nationals. Additionally, authorities in some localities press NGOs to hire employees from the specific area or from a specific ethnic group even though the law does not require this. The Labor Act does not specifically discuss senior management and boards of directors. The government requires work permit fees for foreign nationals. These are typically several thousand dollars per employee, but the exact amounts change regularly. Foreigners are also subject to a variety of registration requirements, which also change frequently and unpredictably. In February 2022, the Ministry of Petroleum approved a Unified Human Resources Policy Manual which will standardize salary structures for personnel working in the oil sector.

The 2009 Investment Promotion Act states that when the Ministry of Investment evaluates an application for an investment certificate, the Ministry must consider whether the investment will generate tax revenues, create jobs, and provide new skills for the people of South Sudan. The Investment Act applies these requirements equally to domestic and foreign investors. The Ministry may also consider whether the investment will provide South Sudan with new technology through transfers, use local raw materials and supplies, and contribute to the local community. The Ministry of Investment may revoke an investment certificate due to breach of performance requirements with 30 days’ notice. There are no provisions regarding adjustments to performance requirements.

There are no known requirements for foreign IT providers to turn over source code or provide access to encryption. There are no known prohibitions on transferring customer or other business data outside the country. There are no known rules requiring data storage within the country.

Real Property

There was no progress in 2022 towards comprehensive land reform. There are no laws on mortgages, valuation, or the registration of titles. Three laws developed under the transitional constitution establish the fundamental framework for fair and transparent administration of land rights in South Sudan: the 2009 Land Act, the 2009 Government Act, and the 2009 Investment Promotion Act. The 2009 Land Act and the 2009 Investment Promotion Act both state that non-citizens can lease land for investment purposes. However, foreign ownership of land is prohibited and there are no clear regulations governing how a business can access land for investment use.

Years of war and reoccurring natural disasters created increased uncertainty regarding land tenure. According to USAID’s March2023 South Sudan Complex Emergency Fact Sheet , 4.3 million South Sudanese are internally or internationally displaced from their homes. During the five-year civil war, people illegally occupied land and most remain there. While the rightful owners may hold clear land titles, the legal system is not equipped to handle their claims.

Ownership of land is often unclear, with communities and government often claiming the same property. Land grabbing accusations are common. Property owners or public authorities may try to evict unauthorized occupants under the Land Act, but that frequently leads to violent clashes. . President Kiir formed a committee in 2021 to review land grabbing in Juba, but the committee has not released its findings. Local media organization Eye Radio, however, reported in November 2022 that 500 land grabbers were arrested in Juba County from January to November 2022.

The 2014 World Bank-funded South Sudan Country Report Findings of the Land Governance Assessment Framework  concluded South Sudan’s underdeveloped legal and institutional framework reflects the difficulties the country faces in establishing effective governance and rule of law institutions after decades of conflict. The report’s conclusions remain accurate and, given the fighting since, perhaps understated the complexity of problem. Most land governance institutions operate according to procedures developed in the colonial era, and there is a wide divergence between law and practice. Bridging this gap has been one of the most difficult challenges of the post-independence period. Poor coordination between different levels of government undermines property rights enforcement.

Some businesses lease land from the government, while others lease directly from local communities and/or individuals. Under the Land Act, investment in land acquired from local communities must contribute economically and socially to the development of the local community. Businesses will often sign a memorandum of understanding with the local communities in which they agree to employ locals or invest in social services in exchange for use of the land. Land negotiations can take months or years to complete.

Intellectual Property Rights

Despite the fact that the legal structure for intellectual property rights (IPR) is weak and enforcement is lax, South Sudan is not included in the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Report or the Notorious Markets List.

Recorded instances of intellectual property theft are rare due to lack of capacity. While the 2009 Investment Promotion Act includes an article on the protection of IPR, neither the legislature nor any government ministry implemented laws or regulations governing trademarks, copyrights, or patents. The government did not enact any new IP-related laws or regulations in 2022. To date, the only intellectual property law South Sudan has is the 2013 Trademarks Bill.

South Sudan does not track or seize counterfeit goods. There has been no known prosecution of IPR violations and there are no estimates available for traffic of counterfeit goods.

For additional information about national laws and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at .

Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

South Sudan does not have a functioning stock market or any other system of exchange for financial assets.

It is difficult for foreign investors to obtain credit on the local market due to the shortage of hard currency, the inability to obtain reliable figures or audited accounts, the absence of a credit reference bureau, and South Sudan’s failure to document land ownership properly. Banks are often unwilling to lend because they claim lenders receive inadequate legal protection and because South Sudan lacks verifiable state or national personal identification methods, making most borrowers high risk.

Depositors are still reluctant to deposit money in banks after the Bank of South Sudan in 2015 confiscated commercial banks’ deposits at the central bank and diverted then to the government, making it difficult or impossible for companies and individuals to access their funds.

The Bank of South Sudan issued treasury bills briefly between 2016 and 2017 and said it would issue them again in a November 2022 presentation at the African Development Bank , but still has not.

Money and Banking System

The Bank of South Sudan (BoSS), the central bank, has limited assets and functions more as a commercial bank servicing the governments transactions; however, in 2022 ongoing public financial management reforms implemented by the Bank of South Sudan led to a change in monetary policy. The central bank has tried to stabilize the South Sudanese Pound through currency auctions, but the latter half of 2022 into early 2023 witnessed steady depreciation of the South Sudanese Pound (SSP), from 625 SSP to the dollar in October 2022 to 850 SSP to the dollar by April 2023. The BoSS reintroduced auctioning of US dollars to commercial banks and Forex bureaus to prop up the SSP in February 2023. The BoSS had cut back on dollar auctions in November 2022 by about 50 percent after seeing “successful implementation of the monetary policy instrument,” according to BoSS Governor Johnny Ohisa Danian. A $115.7 million IMF disbursement under the Food Shock Window Rapid Credit Facility, most of which went to foreign reserves, temporarily stabilized the exchange rate, but the SSP began to slide again a few weeks later.

The banking sector faces significant challenges because of U.S. and United Nations sanctions against certain South Sudanese entities and individuals. South Sudan is on the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) “grey list,” meaning FATF increased its monitoring due to South Sudan’s deficiencies in countering money laundering and terrorist financing.

Although there are 31 registered banks in South Sudan, the banking sector is small and underdeveloped with limited use of demand deposits and few foreign banks. Analysts believe many domestic banks are undercapitalized.

South Sudan is one of the most underbanked countries. Most people hold their savings in cash. Banks usually only lend to businesses with well-documented contracts with international organizations.

There are two main mobile payment providers: mGurush and Nilepay. MTN also recently introduced MoMo Money as a money transfer service in January 2023. However, users of these platforms must have cell phone coverage and also a bank account, which over 90 percent of South Sudanese do not have.

There are no known restrictions on a foreigner’s ability to establish a bank account.

Foreign Exchange and Remittances

Foreign Exchange

The 2009 Investment Promotion Act guarantees unconditional transferability in and out of South Sudan “in freely convertible currency” for investment capital, foreign loan payments, and remittance of proceeds in the event of sale or liquidation of the enterprise. The ability to exchange local currency for foreign currency is severely restricted due to South Sudan’s lack of correspondent banking relationships. Some international and U.S. businesses have complained that the inability to repatriate proceeds has hurt their businesses.

The BoSS helped narrow the gap between the official and the parallel exchange rate in 2021 through regular IMF-supported currency auctions, which were suspended in April 2022 but have resumed sporadically since then. While the currency has continued to depreciate, these auction have helped to control the spread between the official and parallel exchange rates. .

Remittance Policies

There have been no recent changes to investment remittance policies, and no known waiting periods on remittances.

Sovereign Wealth Funds

The 2013 Petroleum Revenue Management Act created a Petroleum Revenue Savings Fund consisting of two accounts into which the government is to deposit oil revenues. One was the Oil Revenue Stabilization Account, which is to receive 10 percent of oil revenues and serve as a buffer against volatility in oil prices in South Sudan’s budgeting process. The other was the Future Generation Fund, which was to receive 15 percent of oil proceeds and serve as a repository for funds meant to help future generations transition to a post-oil economy. To date, however, it remains unclear if these have received any financing, despite the government sometimes including them in budget allocations.

The revenue sharing provisions in the 2013 Petroleum Revenue Management Act require the national government to distribute two percent of oil revenue to oil-producing states and three percent to local oil-producing communities. These transfers appeared in the Annual Budget for 2021/22 but at a public forum in November 2022, State governors complained of not receiving those transfers, raising the questions of where the funds went. There are no publicly available documents that explain how the states and localities use those funds.
None of these wealth funds follow the voluntary code of good practices for transparency and accountability known as the Santiago Principles. South Sudan does not participate in the International Forum of Sovereign Wealth Funds.

The Nile Petroleum Corporation (Nilepet) is the primary State-Owned Enterprise (SOE) in South Sudan. The government, through Nilepet, holds minority stakes in other oil producing joint ventures operating in South Sudan. The 2013 Petroleum Revenue Management Act governs how Nilepet’s profits are invested, but Nilepet does not release information on its activities, even though Chapter IX of the 2013 Petroleum Revenue Management Act states comprehensive, audited reports on the company’s finances must be made publicly available. Nilepet’s revenues and expenditures are not disclosed in the central government budget.

Nilepet’s director does not report to the Minister of Petroleum and the government is not transparent about how it exercises ownership or control of Nilepet.

Nilepet is on the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) Entity List. See 83 FR 12475 .

The government also owns stakes in construction and trade companies and several banks. It is difficult to obtain information on the number, total income, and employment figures of SOEs in South Sudan. There is no published list of SOEs.

The country does not adhere to the OECD Guidelines on Corporate Governance for SOEs.

Privatization Program

South Sudan does not have a privatization program.

The idea of responsible business conduct is nascent in South Sudan, and there is little awareness of standards in this area. The few large international firms operating in South Sudan sometimes offer basic benefits to local communities but on an irregular basis. The 2009 Land Act requires investment activities carried out on land acquired from local communities to “reflect an important interest for the community or people living in the locality,” and to contribute economically and socially. Many South Sudanese complain about foreign-owned companies not hiring South Sudanese employees.

The 2009 Investment Promotion Act says investors must pay a fine and clean up waste if they do not implement environmentally friendly rules, but the Act does not require environmental, social, and governance (ESG) disclosures to facilitate transparency for investors and consumers.

International observers claim many oil producing companies in South Sudan do not practice responsible behavior with regard to environmental damage in the oil fields. The 2012 Petroleum Act requires the Ministry of Petroleum to subject projects to environmental and social impact assessments, but it is unclear whether or how the Ministry enforces this requirement. In September 2022, the Ministry of Petroleum contracted three companies to conduct environmental audits on the oil industry. To date, no report has been released about the outcome of the audit.

The 2018 peace agreement and some national laws (such as the Petroleum Act) contain responsible business conduct provisions, but the government does not enforce them. The government has not instituted corporate governance, accounting, or executive compensation standards to protect shareholders. NGOs promote responsible business conduct, particularly in the environmental domain, but activists and reporters allege government harassment.

The government has demonstrated little capacity or will to enforce laws protecting human and labor rights, consumer protection, environmental protections, and other laws/regulations intended to protect individuals from adverse business impact. There are reports of child labor in supply chains, especially for gold mining.

The government does not encourage adherence to the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Afflicted and High-Risk Areas, and there are no functioning domestic measures related to such due diligence.

South Sudan does not participate in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) although the 2018 peace agreement requires South Sudan to join.
Several private security companies operate in South Sudan providing protection to various embassies and NGOs. South Sudan is not a signatory to the Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies or a supporter of the International Code of Conduct or Private Security Service Providers. South Sudan does not participate in the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers’ Association (ICoCA).

Additional Resources

Department of State

Department of the Treasury

Department of Labor

Climate Issues

With the help of the UN Development Program, South Sudan published its Second Nationally Determined Contribution  plan in September 2021 and its First National Adaptation Plan for Climate Change  in November 2021.

South Sudan currently lacks the funding and governmental capacity to achieve the policy measures spelled out in these documents. South Sudan relies primarily on international organizations and donor countries to finance programs to achieve its targets. Government officials want to partner with the private sector, but the government has not yet implemented regulations or incentives to foster those partnerships.

Public procurement policies generally do not include environmental and green growth considerations such as resource efficiency, pollution abatement, and climate resilience. Extractive industry projects are supposed to have environmental impact assessments, like that required under the 2012 Petroleum Act; however, the government does not always enforce those requirements due to lack of capacity or corruption.

South Sudan has laws, regulations, and penalties to combat corruption, but there is a near total lack of enforcement, and considerable gaps exist in legislation. Transparency International ranked South Sudan the world’s most corrupt country in 2021 and second most corrupt country after Somalia in 2022.

Politically connected people are immune from prosecution. There are no laws that prevent conflict of interest in government procurement. Government officials regularly ask companies to pay extralegal taxes and fees.

The government does not encourage or require private companies to establish internal codes of conduct prohibiting bribery of public officials. There are no indications private companies use internal controls, ethics, and compliance programs to detect and prevent government bribery.

There were no significant anti-corruption cases investigated or prosecuted in 2021 or 2022. Anti-corruption officials allege intentional underfunding of their activities to protect Politically Exposed Persons (PEP).

The 2009 Southern Sudan Anti-Corruption Commission (SSACC) Act established a commission with five members and chairperson appointed by the President with approval from a simple majority in parliament. The commission is tasked with protecting public property, investigating corruption, and submitting evidence to the Ministry of Justice for necessary action. The SSACC lacks the resources or political support to investigate corruption. It has no independent arrest or prosecution authority or capacity to address state corruption. It can only relay its findings to the Ministry of Justice for prosecution or ‘appropriate action’. This section of the law made over ten cases previously submitted to the Ministry of Justice by the Anti-Corruption Commission, only one made it to court in 2013 and no ruling came out. The 2012 Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorist Financing Act established a Financial Intelligence Unit, however post’s meetings in 2023 with IMF contacts confirmed that the FIU is far from “functional” and not yet acting as an independent body.

South Sudan acceded to the United Nations Convention against Corruption in 2015 but has not yet ratified it. The country is not a party to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and is not reported to be a participant in regional anti-corruption initiatives. The National Constitution Amendment Committee, a body tasked by the Peace Agreement of 2018 to work on amendment of selected resources and financial management laws conducted consultations and presented a comprehensive amendment bill on anti-corruption and audits to the Ministry of Justice for onward transmission to the TNLA but they are stuck along the way.

The country provides no protection to NGOs or journalists who investigate corruption. NGOs and journalists of all types are routinely subject to government harassment and intimidation. Both journalists and NGO workers have been killed while working in South Sudan.

Government security services interfere with and demand payments from all major industries including the extractives sector, hotels, airlines, and banking.

Resources to Report Corruption

Contacts at the government agency or agencies that are responsible for combating corruption:

National Audit Chamber
P.O. Box 210
Juba, South Sudan
Tel: +211(0)921120353 ;

Honorable Ngor Kulong Ngor
South Sudan Anti-Corruption Commission
P.O Box 312
Juba, South Sudan 
+211 (0) 927 117 414

Contact at a “watchdog” organization:

Transparency International
Alt-Moabit 96
10559 Berlin
Telephone: +49 30 3438 200
Fax: +49 30 3470 3912 

The Sentry
c/o The Enough Project
1420 K Street NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC 20005 

There is a long history of politically motivated violence in South Sudan. Warring parties concluded a peace agreement in September 2018 to stop the civil war that broke out in 2013. The conflict severely disrupted trade, markets, and agricultural activities, while claiming hundreds of thousands of lives and spurring a severe humanitarian crisis the country still grapples with. The conflict was marked by grave human rights abuses, especially pervasive gender-based violence. South Sudan is slowly implementing the 2018 revitalized peace agreement and routinely misses all deadlines associated with implementing the peace agreement. Political and sub-state violence is frequent throughout the country. In August 2022 the peace agreement’s transition period was extended by another 24 months from February 2023 to February 2025, with national elections set for December 2024. As of April 2023, subnational violence continues to persist, and the government continues to fail to show serious political will to meet peace commitments or pull off fair, free, and credible elections on this new timeline.

The country is plagued by large-scale displacement of people (internally and as refugees), widespread food insecurity, severe human-rights abuses, restricted humanitarian assistance access, and harassment of aid workers and journalists. In its December 2022 South Sudan Humanitarian Snapshot , the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that out of a population 12.1 million, South Sudan has 2.2 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and 2.26 million South Sudanese refugees in neighboring countries. The government has not stabilized conditions in the country for all IDPs and refugees to safely return to their homes. The country has 9.1 million people who will need some type of humanitarian assistance to survive in 2023. According to South Sudan’s Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), which was released in November 2022 for the October 2022 through July 2023 period, South Sudan’s IPC ratings have gone up in severity.

Previous violence during conflict with Sudan resulted in damage to installations in one of the major oil producing areas in the country, shutting down production in that region. Repairs to these facilities began in 2018, allowing oil production to increase, although production declined again in 2021 due mostly to the third year of sustained flooding South Sudan is experiencing.

Fighting continues in some parts of the country between the government and non-signatories to the 2018 peace deal. Generally, the ceasefire is holding between the government and main opposition groups, but under increasing stress. Persistent sub-national violence stemming from complex socioeconomic, ethnic, and political causes is present throughout South Sudan and has increased since 2019.

The government continued to detain political opposition leaders in 2022 and in 2023, there were reports that supporters of the opposition were arrested in one state for wearing T-shirts bearing one opposition party slogan. The government periodically detained journalists and temporarily shut down media outlets (print and radio) it accused of publishing articles or broadcasting radio programs that allegedly threatened the government, challenged its competence, or reported instances of corruption. Seven South Sudan Broadcasting Company staff were held for months by the National Security Service in connection with a December 2022 video that was leaked online that was embarrassing to President Kiir.

NGOs complained of harassment, and armed groups continued to attack aid convoys and depots in 2022 and early 2023. International Organizations periodically report ambushes along major supply routes in South Sudan. Such attacks resulted in death and injury to NGO personnel, vehicles destroyed, and supplies looted are destroyed. Such attacks hinder the delivery of aid to countless South Sudanese throughout the country dependent on such assistance to survive.

Ten humanitarian aid workers were killed between January and March 2023. (Note: Post’s figures differ slightly from OCHA’s. End note.) The civil war started in 2013, at least 125 aid workers have been killed, most between 2013 and 2015 when violence peaked. .

South Sudan has a shortage of skilled and unskilled workers across most areas in the formal sector.  Construction and service sector employers often hire workers from neighboring countries and beyond because of the lack of basic skills training among South Sudanese workers.  UNESCO Institute of Statistics estimates the adult literacy rate in South Sudan is only 34.5 percent.

The most recent changes to South Sudan’s labor laws came from the 2017 Labor Act, but the government generally does not enforce labor laws.  The Ministry of Labor has not conducted labor inspections since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however a recent news article cites at least 800,000 undocumented workers in the country.  When it did, NGOs and foreign investors reported employees colluded with labor inspectors to extort fines from business managers.  Most small South Sudanese businesses operate in the informal economy, where labor laws and regulations are widely ignored.

The Ministry of Labor reviews work permit applications to determine whether a position could be filled by a South Sudanese national.  Some foreign-owned companies report long delays in receiving work permits for expatriate staff, and many expatriates are only able to obtain work permits for one to three months.  State and local authorities reportedly charge additional fees and attempt to restrict employment to people from a certain place or of a certain ethnic group.  Government security offices reportedly interfere with hiring in some cases.

The 2017 Labor Act allows for Termination for Redundancy “due to changes in the operational requirements of the employer” and requires severance pay in some cases.  The law differentiates between this and other forms of termination.

South Sudan has limited social safety net programs for workers laid off for economic reasons.  The Labor Act establishes an “employment exchange” scheme for unemployed people that reserves vending, driving, office support staffing, and other manual labor for South Sudan nationals only.

There are no special labor provisions to attract or retain investment.  No formal functioning collective bargaining systems exist.  Those seeking resolution of labor disputes must work with the Ministry of Labor, courts, informal mediation, or a combination thereof.  Foreign employers report being at a significant disadvantage in such disputes.

In 2022, there were occasional protests, primarily by unemployed youth to express displeasure, resorted to violent activities, and threatened and targeted NGOs due to their lack of economic opportunities.  Occasionally employees from specific ethnic groups protest or strike if they believe employees from other different ethnic groups receive favored treatment.

Child labor is rampant.  The Ministry of Labor does not enforce child labor laws.  Child labor mostly occurs in the informal economy, which the government generally does not monitor.


The DFC and its predecessor, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), have engaged South Sudan since 2012.  The United States and South Sudan ratified an Investment Incentive Agreement (IIA) in 2013.  Currently there are no DFC projects in South Sudan.

South Sudan is a member country of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, which helps cross-border investors and lenders deal with non-commercial and political risks.


Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy
Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or International Source of Data:  BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD) N/A N/A 2021 USD 11.9 billion UNCTAD data available at 
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or international Source of data:  BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A N/A N/A BEA data available at
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A N/A N/A BEA data available at
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP N/A N/A N/A N/A UNCTAD Country Profile data available at

* Source for Host Country Data:  N/A 

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI
Data not available.

Economic/Commercial Section
U.S. Embassy, Kololo Road, Juba, South Sudan
(U.S.) +1 (202) 216-6279, ext 355 

On This Page

  2. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment
    1. Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment
    2. Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment
    3. Other Investment Policy Reviews
    4. Business Facilitation
    5. Outward Investment
  3. 2. Bilateral Investment and Taxation Treaties
  4. 3. Legal Regime
    1. Transparency of the Regulatory System
    2. International Regulatory Considerations
    3. Legal System and Judicial Independence
    4. Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment
    5. Competition and Antitrust Laws
    6. Expropriation and Compensation
    7. Dispute Settlement
      1. International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) Convention and New York Convention
      2. Investor-State Dispute Settlement
      3. International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts
    8. Bankruptcy Regulations
  5. 4. Industrial Policies
    1. Investment Incentives
    2. Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation
    3. Performance and Data Localization Requirements
  6. 5. Protection of Property Rights
    1. Real Property
    2. Intellectual Property Rights
  7. 6. Financial Sector
    1. Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment
    2. Money and Banking System
    3. Foreign Exchange and Remittances
      1. Foreign Exchange
      2. Remittance Policies
    4. Sovereign Wealth Funds
  8. 7. State-Owned Enterprises
    1. Privatization Program
  9. 8. Responsible Business Conduct
    1. Additional Resources
      1. Climate Issues
  10. 9. Corruption
  11. 10. Political and Security Environment
  12. 11. Labor Policies and Practices
  13. 12. U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), and Other Investment Insurance or Development Finance Programs
  14. 13. Foreign Direct Investment Statistics
  15. 14. Contact for More Information
2023 Investment Climate Statements: South Sudan
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