Abu Dhabi - Sudan has secured a $1.5bn loan from a Chinese
bank that was guaranteed by state oil firm China National Petroleum Corp
(CNPC), Sudan's finance minister said on Wednesday, throwing a lifeline to the
Sudan has been struggling with an economic crisis since
losing three-quarters of its oil production when South Sudan became independent
in 2011. Oil was the main revenue source for the budget and for dollars needed
to buy basic food imports such as wheat and sugar.
Sudan has avoided an "Arab spring" revolution that
toppled rulers in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya but annual inflation running at
46.5% in November has sparked small protests against the government.
"The $1.5bn loan will be used to bridge the fiscal gap
and enhance our balance of payments," Ali Mahmoud told Reuters in Abu
Dhabi, adding the loan was granted on December 31. He declined to name the
China is Sudan's biggest trading partner apart from Gulf
Arab oil producers and the biggest investor in the oil industry in Sudan and
Mahmoud also said Sudan would boost agricultural exports
this year to help offset the loss of oil.
"With most of our oil exports gone, we are enhancing
agricultural products exports. This year we are expecting to export edible oil
and will cut imports of sugar by half," he said.
He spoke after the signing ceremony for a $45m loan for
Sudan from the Arab Monetary Fund (AMF), an Abu Dhabi development fund.
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