Sudan poses reputational risks for U.S. businesses: State Department

The United States issued on Monday what is known as a ‘business advisory’ to warn of risks associated with conducting business with government and military corporations in Sudan.

Those reputational risks “arise from, among other things, recent actions undertaken by Sudan’s Sovereign Council and security forces under the military’s command, including and especially serious human rights abuse against protesters”.

The warning highlights the growing strains in the US-Sudan relationship after an unprecedented honeymoon that started in the final year of Donald Trump’s presidency and saw the lifting of decades-long sanctions.

Biden has condemned the October 25th military coup in Sudan led by General Abdel-Fatah al-Burhan and the impact it had on disrupting the democratic transition.

The U.S. has suspended all aid to Sudan and vowed to block, along with international partners, any loans or debt relief that was already in the works.

The advisory was a product of review by the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Department of Labor.

It stated that Sudanese State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) which includes all companies under military control pose risks to U.S. businesses, individuals, and other persons, including academic institutions, research service providers, and investors.

“Businesses and individuals operating in Sudan and the region should undertake increased due diligence related to human rights issues and be aware of the potential reputational risks of conducting business activities and/or transactions with SOEs and military-controlled companies”.

However, the advisory stressed that Washington “does not seek to curtail or discourage responsible investment or business activities in Sudan with civilian-owned Sudanese counterparts”.

It noted that hundreds of SOEs and military-controlled companies work in activities such as fuel storage, natural gas projects, solar panel manufacturing, infrastructure, the railroad sector, cotton and textiles, food industries, bread production, and animal husbandry.

“These SOEs also have a history of sinecure and self-dealing that has sapped Sudan’s financial and economic resources”.

The Republican ranking member on the Senate foreign relations committee Jim Risch said in a tweet that the advisory affirms that the Sudanese military is in control of the country’s economic resources.

“Last year’s coup consolidated the junta’s corrupt interests, and is why private sector investment is unsafe as long as they remain in charge” he added.

The advisory comes hours ahead of a confirmation hearing at the US senate for the nominee for Sudan ambassadorship John Godfrey. He is likely to be pressed by US lawmakers on the Biden administration’s plans for dealing with the military junta.

Source: Sudan Tribune