Sudan's crop opportunities could be Egypt's boon or bust

Sudan wants to expand agricultural production, which could benefit it as well as Egypt, but Cairo worries that such a development might threaten its supply of the Nile's water.

A farmer walks with his donkeys and cart in Sudan's eastern Kassala state, May 2, 2017. (photo by ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP/Getty Images)

CAIRO — Agricultural investments are the name of the game in Sudan now that the United States has lifted long-term economic sanctions against the Khartoum government, but Cairo is worried that Sudanese growth will negatively affect Egypt's water supply. Being free of the sanctions will help Sudan "facilitate banking procedures that constituted a major challenge for investors,” Sudanese State Minister for Investment Osama Faisal told al-Hadath Oct. 7. Agriculture, the main economic sector in Sudan, stands to gain in particular from new investment inflows and the growing global demand for food. 

Twenty years ago, in on Sudan over concerns that the government was harboring terrorist groups, in particular al-Qaeda, and amid accusations of genocide in the Darfur region. In lifting the sanctions on Oct. 6, the United States cited Sudan’s improved counterterrorism and humanitarian efforts and its commitment to to North Korea, with which Khartoum is thought not to have official, diplomatic relations. Washington, however, still considers Sudan to be a state sponsor of terrorism, a designation that carries restrictions on aid and weapon sales.

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