JUBA —The United States Department of State, in a new report, said trade and investment conditions in South Sudan slightly improved over the past year.
“Trade and investment conditions in South Sudan improved slightly in the past year, but many challenges remain,” it read. “The Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGoNU) continued to implement the 2018 Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS), although key provisions on security, governance, and transitional justice remain outstanding.”
“The transitional government continued implementing public financial management (PFM) reforms including stabilizing the South Sudanese Pound (SSP),” it added.
According to the report, the World Bank, in its February 2022 report entitled “Towards a Jobs Agenda,” provided a “cautiously positive” forecast the economy could grow by 3.5 to 5.0 percent in productive sectors including household processing and artisanal production “if the peace process holds.”
“However, peace agreement implementation is significantly behind schedule. The country remains plagued by large-scale population displacement, widespread food insecurity, restricted humanitarian access, harassment of aid workers and journalists, and catastrophic flooding for the third straight year,” the report said.
The South Sudan economy is highly dependent on oil-revenue and the transitional government did not institute any new programs in the past year to diversify the country’s economy, the report said.
According to the Department of State, South Sudan’s oil sector is fraught with corruption and mismanagement and the country’s oil-producing firms and the Ministry of Petroleum remain on the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) Entity List.
“The U.S. government assesses the 15 entities BIS added to the Entity List that are contributing to the ongoing crisis in South Sudan because they are a source of substantial revenue that, through public corruption, is used to fund the purchase of weapons and other material that undermine the peace, security, and stability of South Sudan rather than support the welfare of the South Sudanese people,” the report said.
Corruption and malfeasance extend beyond the oil sector, the report added.
“Humanitarian and development aid is a major source of employment,” it read, warning. “The difficulties humanitarian service providers face of arbitrary and conflicting regulations, multiple layers of taxation, airport and border obstructions, labor harassment, and looting of warehouses demonstrate what private investors can expect to encounter.”
The report also specified that the legal system is underfunded, dysfunctional, and subject to corrupt practices and interference.
“Government entities do not enforce laws equitably or consistently. Corrupt government officials operate with impunity,” it read. “The legal framework governing investment and private enterprises remains underdeveloped. Contract dispute litigants are sometimes arrested and imprisoned until they agree to pay a financial settlement even when never charged an offense or brought to court.”
Other factors inhibiting investment in South Sudan include a lack of skilled and unskilled labor and limited physical infrastructure riddled with arbitrary checkpoints, the report added.
The U.S. Department of State maintains a Do Not Travel Advisory for South Sudan due to crime, kidnapping, and armed conflict.