29 October 2012

Sudan: Commodity Prices Fall in Unity State After Cooperation Agreement

Benitu — Agreements signed by Juba and Khartoum on 27 September have begun to positively impact upon the price of goods for the citizens of Unity state.

The state's Mayom county has seen a reduction in the price of household goods with the re-opening of the border upon which it lies, between South Sudan and its northern neighbour.

According to a chief of the Misseriya ethnic group who trades across the border the sorghum staple has fallen from SSDG700 (US$160) to SSDG500 (US$110) per 100kg.

Other staple prices have also dropped, sugar 50kg, wheat flour 50 kg and 20 litre of oil all dropped to 200 SSP (US$45).

Last month Juba and Khartoum signed a series of agreements in Addis Ababa including an arrangement to reopen the border, allowing renewed trade between the nations, both of which implemented austerity measures in reaction their respective economic difficulties.

The Bul Nuer ethnic group of Unity signed a cross-border agreement with the Misseriya, allowing them grazing rites in the state. Allegedly, this allowed some of the Misseriya to carryout lucrative smuggling into Unity from north Sudan.

Miseriya leader, Alkhir Ismail Alkhir, who facilitated talks between his community and the Bul Nuer told Sudan Tribune on Saturday that a large quantity of goods entered into Unity from north Sudan this week. However, he stated that "we don't know when the other routes connecting other part will be open." He commended the Presidents of both nations for reaching the agreements.

Flooding and a road infrastructure is hampering trade, leaving other counties of the state yet to benefit from the opening of the border.

Cases of flood victims from both Mayiandit and Payinjiar counties of Unity state reached 60,000 according to the officials in the counties. The recent trip to both areas by the authorities and NGO's showed that thousands of lives are threatened by the floodwater.

Paul Majok Riak, a trader in Bentiu town called on the government to focus on the development of South Sudan's links to the rest of East Africa. He described it as the "only option" to reduce the prices of goods in the state.

Daniel Ruai, a citizen in Bentiu town, said the opening of the border roads is very important but also warned that once this road between the two states is fully operational expired foods and medicines may be smuggled in.

Parieng county citizens are alarmed by the delayed flow of goods from north Sudan to their state.

The roads connecting to Parieng and Heglig are another challenge after the two Sudans. Although the seasonal roads are still accessible by traders there is concern about the security situation in the area.

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