The time has come for permanent relief of economic sanctions in Sudan

In 1997, the United States imposed economic sanctions on Sudan. Now, nearly 20 years later, the chance has come to chart a new course between our two countries. The time has come for permanent relief of economic sanctions for Sudan.

Last month, the US envoy to Khartoum told AFP, Sudan had made “positive steps towards meeting Washington’s requirements for permanently lifting sanctions.” These requirements included counterterrorism cooperation with the United States and intelligence agencies, preventing Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army from operating on its territory, ceasing hostilities in Darfur and two other areas, allowing humanitarian access into conflict zones and ending any negative interference in South Sudan.

Sudan has made progress on these conditions.

Sudan has emerged as a partner on the counterterrorism front. We have taken real steps to counter ISIL and other terrorist groups and have sought to prevent their movement into and throughout Sudan. Our intelligence service has been active in cooperation with their colleagues in Washington on countering terrorists in neighboring countries and around the region.

We have also taken great care to curb the expansion of the Lord Resistance Army into the north and issued a cession of hostilities to last at least for a year. As a result, the security situation has improved in Darfur and as a recognition of the improvement, the United Nations Security Council decided last week to down size the peacekeeping mission in the region.

In December of 2016, our Humanitarian Aid Commission began prioritizing access for humanitarian workers and amended their “Directives and Procedures for Humanitarian Action.” This revision led to sustained gains in humanitarian access in key areas.

Even independent organizations such as the International Crisis Group think it is time to lift economic sanctions on Sudan.

Last week, they released a report calling for the easing of some sanctions because “the steps taken by Khartoum are altogether real, modest and reversible, far from what would be needed for Sudan to correct its behavior but more than comprehensive trade and economic sanctions had achieved in years past. The effectiveness of economic penalties in isolating Sudan is doubtful, especially now that it has improved ties with its direct neighbors, with Europe”.

Prior to the easing of sanctions in January of 2017, buying or selling anything to or from Sudan was a tedious process largely limited to medical or agricultural products. Few foreign banks exist in our country and the United States had effectively shut down any banking transactions or extensions of credit with Sudan. The impact these economic sanctions have had on us are indeed crippling. No investment money coming it means no improvement in agricultural technology, health care or education. It means elevated levels of poverty. It means a lower quality of life for women, children and families.

By or before July 12, 2017, the Trump Administration will have a decision to make on the permanent relief of sanctions in Sudan. Our government is committed to working with the United States to continue to make progress. We are a partner. And we believe a permanent relief of sanctions is the right next step.