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Issue Brief

March 8, 2018

Sudan: Prospects for economic re-engagement

By Jeffrey Herbst

The second paper in the new Atlantic Council Sudan Task Force series, “Sudan: Prospects for Economic Re-engagement” examines the possibility of a new era of US economic cooperation with Sudan, including an opportunity for the United States to push for desperately needed economic reforms as part of wider US bilateral engagements efforts.

Authored by Dr. Jeffrey Herbst in collaboration with the Council’s Sudan Task Force, the issue brief describes the political economy of Sudan, which shapes Khartoum’s priorities and affects how it will respond to demands for economic reform.

Herbst, an expert on African political economy, is a Sudan Task Force member and a senior fellow at the Brenthurst Foundation. He was formerly CEO of the Newseum.

The issue brief reviews the immediate and long-term steps that the United States and Sudan can take to improve economic relations. It argues that, while a great many Sudanese believe that the lifting of US sanctions will be sufficient for the economy to improve, the elimination of punitive measures is only one necessary step. Real economic progress will depend on fundamental changes—including sharply reducing subsidies, devaluing the currency, reigning in corruption, restraining government intervention in the economy, and directing resources away from the security sector and toward poverty reduction. These economic benchmarks are closely related to, and assume continued progress on, issues of politics and governance, which are part of current US-Sudan negotiations.

Khartoum, Herbst argues, must stop sanctioning its own economy if the potential of the country—including the resumption of US trade, investment, and development assistance—is to be realized.

Additional issue briefs in the Sudan Task Force series include “Sudan: Politics, Engagement, and Reform” and “Sudan: Soft Power, Cultural Engagement, and National Security.”


Image: Photo credit: Christopher Michel.