[Source: NUSACC's U.S.-Arab Trade Outlook 2013]
The largest Arab country by area, Sudan is also the largest country in Africa. This troubled nation has been embroiled in ethnic civil conflict for 45 years, ever since the country gained independence in 1956. A Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in 2005 gave the South limited autonomy, paving the way for full-fledged elections in Southern Sudan in January 2011.
A very high percentage of Southern Sudanese cast their vote in favor of secession from the North, virtually ensuring that a new nation will be born in Africa in the near future. U.S. President Barack Obama characterized the process as an “inspiration to the world.” The peaceful polling process and the high turnout, he said, were a “tribute to the determination of the people and leaders of South Sudan to forge a better future.”
The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that 70 percent of Sudan’s revenues come from oil exports, and most of the country’s estimated six billion barrels of oil reserves are located in the South. The Sudanese Petroleum Ministry intends to raise production from the current 470,000 bpd to one million bpd by 2013.
In 2010, Sudan awarded $166.5 million in contracts in the southeast Melut basin to a joint venture with Chinese and Malaysian firms. Currently, 60 percent of Sudan’s oil exports are destined for China, followed by Japan, India and Indonesia.
While Kenyan and South African investment in Southern Sudan is increasing, U.S. economic and trade sanctions imposed in 1997 have kept most U.S. companies out of the equation. “Humanitarian only” exports have been allowed in response to the ongoing tragedy in the Darfur region.