BORDERS’ TRADE HEALTHY FOR ECONOMIES
By Paul Jimbo
News that South Sudan and Sudan have resolved to reopen their borders for free movement of people and goods is really good and timely.
It is long overdue and a sign of good economic times to come. Naturally national borders have nothing to do with the interactions and cultures of local communities.
The fact that South Sudan and Sudan are no longer one country does not mean the people of the two nations should stop any form of ties.
In fact, the fact that previously all citizens were defined under one nationality is enough reason to foster greater bilateral ties and more healthy relations amongst the civil populations in the two countries.
Anything that disrupts movement of people and goods across the borders of Sudan and South Sudan basically hurts the living standards of innocent people.
It also affects the economies of the two states because imports and exports can be a greater source of revenue to both sides.
The two countries have never had any good history of peace at their borders, more so in places like Abyei and other border points. This is because of the previous historical injustices against South Sudanese who felt marginalised and discriminated in their own motherland.
At the end of it all we waked ourselves into freedom through the 2011 plebiscite and that defined the boundaries between the two countries, save for the jointly administered Abyei region.
Fast forward, the latest events on both sides dictate that the two sisterly nations must resume their trade ties to boost their economic situations.
Both countries have had their fair and equal share of challenges that saw them plunge into serious economic crisis.
There comes a time when common and shared situations can dictate that we work with our opponents.
Initially it was thought that only the people of South Sudan felt the hunger pangs and tough economic times but recent events in Sudan have plunged it into the same fate with its neighbour.
The fact that leaders from both sides of the divide have seen sense in working together and resuming trade ties is really motivating and should be supported.
It should be noted that one your neighbour suffers then you are bound to feel the same pinch at some point and the faster you come together to solve the common problem, the better.
If the borders are opened, then, there should be free movement of people and goods. This should be followed by removal of tariffs and any other barriers to free trade.
This applies to visa and other restrictions that hinder free trade.
The governments of the two nations must identify their trade terms and exploits their business potentials. The fact that South Sudan is rich in so many natural resources including oil and non-oil resources including wildlife and agricultural produce is enough evidence of how lucrative trade between the two countries could be.
The same applies to Sudan, which produces sugar, onions and other agricultural farm produces.
If these areas are tapped on them both countries are bound to reap big time from trade.
The borders should strictly be used to do legalised businesses and not for smuggling contraband and counterfeits.
Each side must see some value in doing business through common border markets including planning for a one-stop border shops to reduce the cumbersome clearing and forwarding procedures that hurt free movements of people and goods.
Security operates should also be deployed at the border points to ensure only legalised businesses go on and only authorised people move across the borders.
When trade resumes them definitely we will begin feeling the trickle down effects of business on our economies.
Sudan and South Sudan should also encourage more value additions to their local produces by encouraging more investments in the manufacturing sector.
This approach will cushion the two countries from any over reliance on a single source of revenue like oil and any other available natural resources.
Citizens across the borders should take advantage of the healthy relations between their countries and explore available business opportunities.