By Denis Elamu
The Chinese government on Tuesday held dialogue with South Sudanese officials aimed to promote growth of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and trade in the youngest nation seeking recovery from more than six years of conflict.
Hua Ning, the Chinese Ambassador to South Sudan said that developing South Sudan’s economy to provide employment and promote people’s wellbeing has become a priority as the peace process gradually advances following the signing of the 2018 revitalized peace deal.
“South Sudan is highly dependent on oil revenues and the fluctuations in international oil prices have brought great uncertainty to the country’s economy. The development of SMEs and trade is of great significance to improving South Sudan’s economic structure, promoting market circulation, and increasing youth employment,” said Hua during the closing of the workshop at the Chinese Embassy in Juba.
The workshop was attended via video link by senior Chinese officials in the ministry of commerce and those from Yiwu City of Zhejiang Province.
Yiwu City, which has over the years built strong cooperation with South Sudan’s Central Equatoria state was at the center of the discussion which aims at facilitating business links between businesses in the Chinese city with South Sudanese entrepreneurs.
“Yiwu developed from a relatively poor place to a prosperous city and has gained unique development experiences, making Yiwu an epitome of China’s reform and opening up,” said Hua, adding that the workshop will lay a good foundation to deepen exchanges and cooperation between the two countries in the future.
The Chinese city is ranked the world’s capital of small commodities, which Hua said is playing key role in promoting the construction of the Belt and Road and China-Africa cooperation.
Salwa Bakony Monytuel, head of South Sudan Chamber of Commerce said her country has great economic potential that depends on first realizing peace and stability for it to be harnessed.
“South Sudan is a young country in the world in two ways we gained independence in 2011 and secondly 70 percent of our population is under the age of 30. There is great potential and urgent need to build a truly inclusive economy to give women and youth opportunities who have been mostly affected by conflict,” said Monytuel.
South Sudan’s weak economy is struggling as a result of years of conflict reducing oil production it relies on to finance 98 percent of it’s fiscal expenditure. In addition, COVID-19 and devastating floods have further worsened the dire economic situation.
Monytuel disclosed the vital need for development partners to support capacity building of SMEs in South Sudan that will be identified by the chamber of commerce.
Christine Ijino Oyenak, Director General Ministry of Trade and Industry said that South Sudan entrepreneurs need to participate in global trade exhibitions in order to market their products, in addition to acquiring knowledge and technological skills.
“We felt privileged to attend today’s workshop on developing SMEs and trade having experience from Yiwu municipal people’s government, this experience seems to be relevant and I believe it will be of great support to South Sudan,” said Oyenak.
She listed developing the agricultural sector as one of the areas with potential to advance trade, investment, joint venture, collaboration and technology transfer between China and South Sudan.