Conference stresses support for South Sudan

Updated: 2011-12-16 09:38

(Xinhua)

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WASHINGTON - A two-day conference on South Sudan stressed on Thursday that the newest nation in the world must be supported in its desire for peace to enable it to concentrate on the needs of its people.

The International Engagement Conference on South Sudan in Washington highlighted the national development vision of South Sudan and the opportunities for investment in the country.

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir Mayardit emphasized his government's commitment to promoting a climate conducive to attracting and retaining new investment, including taking specific legislative actions and encouraging regional and international trade.

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton committed the United States to partnering with South Sudan in its efforts to develop economy and strengthen the institutions of government for the benefit of its people.

Specific investment opportunities were discussed in sectors such as oil and renewable energy, information technology, agriculture, transportation infrastructure, clean water and sanitation, capacity-building services, and financial services.

South Sudan, which officially became an independent country from Sudan on July 9, is among the poorest countries in the world, with a high maternal and child mortality rate, a high illiteracy rate, very limited infrastructure and an economy dependent on oil exports.

"The conference emphasized that South Sudan must be supported in its desire for peace in order to enable it to concentrate on the needs of its people, who have waited long for the opportunity for a better life," the US and South Sudan said in a joint statement issued at the conclusion of the meeting.

The White House said the US has explored the tools on hand to propel development and investment in South Sudan, including easing sanctions to allow investment in the nation's oil sector.

The US slapped comprehensive sanctions on Sudan in October 1997, four years after it put the African state on its list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.

Among others, the US government has launched a review of South Sudan's eligibility for trade benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). Once granted the status, up to 4,800 different products from South Sudan would become eligible for duty-free treatment by the United States, the White House said.

It said the US is also starting the process of considering South Sudan's eligibility under the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which gives duty free treatment to a broader variety of products than GSP, including apparel, footwear, and certain agricultural products.

Representatives from Britain, Norway, Turkey, the European Union, the African Union, the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation and the Corporate Council on Africa were among those present at the meeting.