Sudan bans imports of many goods as crisis looms

* Sudan bans imports of dozens of types of goods

* Many food products, furniture banned

* Local industry and agriculture has decayed

By Opheera McDoom

KHARTOUM, Jan 9 (BestGrowthStock) – Sudan banned the import of many
types of goods including furniture, animals and food products on
Sunday in the latest move to address its trade deficit and
foreign currency (Read more about trading foreign currency. shortages as the oil-producing south looks to
secede.

Analysts blame government over-spending, increased debt and
a neglect of core industry and agriculture for Sudan’s growing
economic crisis as inflation soars and the Sudanese pound
weakens.

Last week Khartoum cut subsidies on all petroleum products
and sugar, adding it would eventually remove all support. Sudan
produces some 500,000 barrels per day of oil, most of which
comes from the south where voting began on Sunday on
independence from the north which it has fought for decades.

“According to this directive, all traders must stop all
procedures relating to the imports of the aforementioned goods
starting today,” the central bank said in a statement.

The banned goods include live animals and animal products,
sweets, furniture, silk, real and fake leather, trees, most
plants and flowers, plastic products, pasta, mineral water,
tobacco for water pipes, flour products, fresh and frozen meat
and dairy products.

Khartoum had already taken measures to restrict imports and
few banks were able to offer letters of credit. The stringent
moves are likely to hit traders hard who profited from the boom
years when the government allowed massive imports to compensate
for a decline in local output.

The capital’s normally fully stocked supermarkets were
already looking emptier on Sunday as import restrictions and
hikes in customs duties imposed late last year took their toll.

Small to medium-sized businesses will be worst hit, saying
the moves had come without warning and they could not turn from
being iporters to exporters overnight and without capital.

Sudan blames the problems on the global financial crisis and
speculation ahead of the referendum on secession. But analysts
say the people are paying the price of their past spendthrift
policies.

In November the Central Bank effectively devalued the
Sudanese pound in the market by matching the black market rate
in official trade, a move it hoped to row back on once foreign
exchange liquidity in the market improves.

On Sunday bank governor Sabir Hassan said in a separate
statement that the policy had brought more hard currency into
official trade and that he was aiming for a rate of 2.70
Sudanese pounds to the U.S. dollar. One U.S. dollar buys just
over three Sudanese pounds on the parallel market.
(Editing by Greg Mahlich)