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Indian FM sees Sudan trade near $1 billion

India's Flag/AFP

India’s Flag/AFP

KHARTOUM, February 4 – India sees two-way trade with Sudan approaching $1 billion this year, New Delhi’s foreign minister said Tuesday in Khartoum, as the impoverished African nation asked for help in building its agricultural sector.

“Our trade figures are expected to reach close to $1 billion by the end of the financial year 2013-14”, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid told reporters after talks with his Sudanese counterpart Ali Ahmed Karti.

The value of two way trade between the two countries reached about $888 million in the financial year ended March 31, 2013.

“There’s a lot more that we can do together,” said Khurshid, on the first-ever visit to Sudan by an Indian foreign minister.

The two sides discussed cooperation in manufacturing and agriculture, Khurshid said.

India is one of the world’s five biggest emerging economies.

Sudan has struggled with a shortage of foreign reserves, a weakened currency and soaring prices since South Sudan separated in July 2011 with about 75 percent of united Sudan’s oil production.

The lost crude accounted for most of Khartoum’s export earnings and half of its fiscal revenues.

Economists say revitalising Sudan’s neglected farm sector is a key to economic recovery.

“The minister reminded me that it is important that India should assist… with alternative energy, solar energy” to allow ground water to be pumped out for agriculture in areas where water is scarce, Khurshid said.

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India’s largest investment is in the Sudan-South Sudan petroleum sector, which was valued at about $2.3 billion before South Sudan’s independence.

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