Sudan receives first US dollar transfers since sanctions lifted

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Sudan’s central bank said Wednesday it had received its first overseas fund transfer in US dollars since Washington announced the lifting of a 20-year-old trade embargo against Khartoum.

Washington last week announced the lifting of sanctions from this Thursday onwards, saying Khartoum had made progress on conditions set for ending the embargo, in place since 1997.

“The transferring of American dollars has commenced after the lifting of sanctions,” Sudan’s official news agency SUNA said, quoting a statement from the Central Bank of Sudan.

“Yesterday, two Sudanese banks received overseas money transfers in US dollars, one from America and another from Europe,” it said, without specifying the amounts or the banks’ names.

Washington had imposed sanctions two decades ago over Khartoum’s alleged support for Islamist militant groups.

It had slapped restrictions on international banking transactions and exchange of technology and spare parts, along with other trade barriers.

Sudan’s economy also suffered a body blow when the south split from the north in 2011 after a bitter civil war, taking with it the bulk of the country’s oil revenues.

Sudan’s currency has been volatile on the black market since Washington’s announcement.

Previously valued at 21.50 to the dollar, the Sudanese pound strengthened to 18.50 in the aftermath of Washington’s announcement.

It was trading at 20 to the dollar on Wednesday.

“The news that Sudanese banks have received US dollar transfers has not impacted the currency market so far,” a forex trader said.

Sudan’s central bank has kept the pound’s official rate at 6.7 to the dollar, but the currency had slumped significantly on the black market in recent months.

The weakening of the pound has bumped inflation up to around 35 percent.

Washington last week said Khartoum had made progress on maintaining a cessation of hostilities in conflict areas, giving aid workers access to such zones and cooperating with US intelligence agencies to fight “terrorism”.

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