Remarks U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Steven Koutsis (As Prepared)
at the Sudan Economic Forum
Thursday, May 25, 2017
Sudanese Bankers Union, Jamhoria St., Khartoum, Sudan
Undersecretary El Naim of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Undersecretary Holi of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Excellencies, Distinguished officials, Members of the Diplomatic community, Ladies and Gentlemen:
It gives me great pleasure to be here today. We appreciate the invitation to participate in the Sudan Economic Forum and the opportunity to answer any questions you might have on the status of the U.S. sanctions regime on Sudan, the January comprehensive lifting of U.S. economic sanctions, and the way forward.
Since the lifting of sanctions in January, we at the U.S. Embassy have received a number of calls from American and Sudanese companies interested in doing cross trade; some noting hesitancy in engaging until after July, when they believe more clarity will prevail on final status on sanctions. I would like to note that while this might be an example of companies doing due diligence to ensure the best outcome for their investments, generally, there is nothing legally holding companies back from doing business with Sudan except in very specific areas.
I know you are all wondering what will happen in July. I honestly do not know which way the decision will go, but I can say that the report that U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson will provide to President Trump on whether the Government of Sudan has sustained positive actions under our engagement will be credible and fact-based.
So, the July report and recommendation on whether to permanently revoke the two executive orders will be based on the actions of the Government of Sudan into July. I can assure you that the Trump Administration remains supportive of our engagement and our goals for advancing our bilateral relationship.
While this is the first such forum for the banking community and private sector hosted by Sudan, in Sudan, in which we have participated, this is the third conference held over the past year specifically aimed at explaining U.S. sanctions. In September, the United States, in conjunction with Covington and Burling, conducted a conference in New York to discuss the technical aspects of sanctions, including obtaining licenses and doing business within the U.S. sanctions laws and regulations.
We followed with a conference in London in December, where U.S. officials talked about doing business without a U.S. nexus — meaning not using the dollar, U.S. persons, or U.S. products. In each of these important fora, officials from the U.S. State Department, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, and the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security answered questions on sanctions-related issues.
As a result of the January 13, 2017, lifting of sanctions, this discussion has now changed. U.S. companies are currently looking at ways to enter into or to expand operations in the Sudanese market, and Sudanese are seeking to fully enter the huge American market. We want to support both sides. Therefore, we are pulling in our regional experts to help us to respond to these queries. Most recently, some of you met with Agricultural Counselor, Michael Francom from the U.S. Department of Agriculture based in Addis Ababa. We are planning to hold a webinar in the near future to help better describe opportunities of mutual interest.
It is important to note that we also have Foreign Commercial Service officers in both Addis Ababa and in Nairobi who could offer services to companies interested in doing business with the United States. Embassy Khartoum, at this time, does not have a full commercial service. We are looking into the various facilities to offer comprehensive assistance to both American and Sudanese businesses.
Many of you have seen the reports of American businesses that are now in Sudan, some of which have already garnered tens of millions of dollar deals, and we are excited about the prospects of an exponential increase in the near future. Generally, U.S. companies are known for excellent products that are of good value, well made, and that offer exceptional customer service and a high level of corporate social responsibility. This has been the history of American companies operating in Sudan.
I would like to conclude by applauding the tremendous effort made on behalf of Sudan from Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour, and Undersecretary El-Naim, who along with former U.S. Special Envoy Donald Booth and the U.S. Embassy team, stood the course through intensive engagement to usher in a new era in Sudan. I would like to thank First Undersecretary at the Ministry of Finance, Mustafa Holi, and officials at the Central Bank of Sudan for making this event possible.
I would like to take this opportunity to introduce two of the U.S. officials who will be answering your, I am sure, many questions today.
Tarek Fahmy is the Acting Director in the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, Office of Sanctions Policy and Implementation. His office is responsible for over 25 economic sanctions programs, including Iran, Cuba, and Syria, and recently worked on the Iran Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. During his time at the State Department, Tarek has facilitated the issuance of sanctions-related Presidential Executive Orders and has provided foreign policy guidance on hundreds of OFAC and Commerce license requests. Prior to joining the State Department, he worked in the Office of the Chief Financial Officer at the Department of Energy, and obtained his MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management.
With 27 years in the State Department, David Scott serves as the Counselor for Political and Economic Affairs at the United States Embassy in Khartoum. He arrived in Sudan in August 2014 from the negotiations team of the Office of the Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, serving with Special Envoy Princeton Lyman and later Donald Booth. A graduate of the National War College, Mr. Scott previously served in Iraq, Algeria, Tanzania, Portugal, Spain, The Philippines, and at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.
Thank you and we wish you a successful forum.