JUBA, South Sudan July 5 — Chinese and South Sudanese officials on Tuesday shared ideas on promoting the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and trade in the East African nation that seeks recovery from years of conflict.
Hua Ning, Chinese Ambassador to South Sudan, said developing South Sudan’s economy to provide employment and promote people’s wellbeing has become a priority as the peace process gradually advances following the signing of the 2018 revitalized peace deal.
“South Sudan is highly dependent on oil revenues and the fluctuations in international oil prices have brought great uncertainty to the country’s economy,” Hua said.
“The development of SMEs and trade is of great significance to improving South Sudan’s economic structure, promoting market circulation, and increasing youth employment,” Hua said during the closing remarks for a workshop that was held via a video link and attended by officials from both countries.
China’s Yiwu City, which has over the years built strong cooperation with South Sudan’s Central Equatoria State, was at the center of the workshop discussion that aims at facilitating links between businesses in the Chinese city with South Sudanese entrepreneurs.
“Yiwu developed from a relatively poor place to a prosperous city and has gained unique development experiences, making Yiwu an epitome of China’s reform and opening up,” said Hua, adding that the workshop will lay a good foundation to deepen exchanges and cooperation between the two countries in the future.
Salwa Bakony Monytuel, head of South Sudan’s Chamber of Commerce said her country has great economic potential. “South Sudan is a young country in the world in two ways; we gained independence in 2011 and secondly 70 percent of our population is under the age of 30. There is great potential and urgent need to build a truly inclusive economy to give women and youth opportunities that have been mostly affected by conflicts,” said Monytuel.
South Sudan’s economy is struggling as a result of years of conflicts and reduced oil production that South Sudan heavily relies on to finance 98 percent of its fiscal expenditure.
In addition, COVID-19 and devastating floods have further worsened the dire economic situation.
Monytuel said there is a vital need for development partners to support the capacity building of SMEs in South Sudan that will be identified by the Chamber of Commerce.
Christine Ijino Oyenak, Director-General of South Sudanese Ministry of Trade and Industry said that South Sudan entrepreneurs need to participate in global trade exhibitions in order to market their products, in addition to acquiring knowledge and technological skills.
“We felt privileged to attend today’s workshop on developing SMEs and trade and hear the experience from Yiwu Municipal People’s Government, this experience is relevant and I believe it will be of great support to South Sudan,” said Oyenak.
She listed developing the agricultural sector as one of the areas with the potential to advance trade, investment, joint venture, collaboration, and technology transfer between China and South Sudan.