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Biden admin. warns U.S. companies against doing business in Sudan

Biden admin. warns U.S. companies against doing business in Sudan
The United States on Monday warned businesses against doing business in Sudan in relation to risks present following the military's seizure of the country in October. Photo by EPA-EFE

May 23 (UPI) -- The Biden administration is warning Americans against doing business with Sudanese state-owned and military-controlled companies as it seeks a return to civilian control of the northeast African country.

The U.S. departments of State, Treasury, Commerce and Labor issued the business advisory Monday that states those who operate in Sudan should be aware of "potential reputational risks" and human rights issues associated with conducting business activities with these entities.

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U.S. businesses and individuals should also be aware of those who have been blacklisted as Special Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons by the Treasury, it added.

The African nation has experienced years of economic and political tumult since the ousting of its former dictator president, Omar al Bashir, in 2019.

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After he was removed from office, steps were taken to establish a civilian-led transitional government, which the military quashed in October in a coup.

The United States has repeatedly called on the military government to return to the path of democracy, sanctioned those who have committed human rights abuses in suppressing protests against the military coup and paused economic assistance and debt relief for Sudan.

Late last month, the United States with Britain, France, Germany, Norway and the European Union called for "immediate progress" to be made toward a civilian transitional government.

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Monday's business advisory said Sudanese state-owned entities and military-controlled companies play "an unusually large role" in the country's economy and that since the coup the military has increased its direct control over them.

According to the U.S. government, there are at least 650 companies publicly listed as state-owned with at least 200 of them being controlled by the military.

"These SOEs also have a history of sinecure and self-dealing that has sapped Sudan's financial and economic resources," the advisory said. "SOEs benefit from preferential treatment from the government and lax transparency and oversight compared to private companies, who are held to a higher standard by the government, which has allowed SOE to dominate Sudan's economy."

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The advisory specifically lists Sudanese gold as a risk, stating the mineral is produced with child labor, and military-related equipment and activities as there is a U.N. arms embargo on Sudan stemming from its actions in Darfur.

"The United States remains committed to supporting the Sudanese people's aspiration for a civilian-led transition to an elected government," State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

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