The International Monetary Fund ( IMF) said on Friday that South Sudan is expected to join the global lender early next year.
"The process of membership of South Sudan at the IMF is at an advanced stage," said IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde following talks with South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit in Washington.
"South Sudan has applied for membership earlier this year and I look forward to South Sudan becoming the Fund's 188th member in early 2012," she said in a statement.
As the world's newest nation, South Sudan has "great potential" to realize the dreams and aspirations of its people, the IMF chief said, noting that the nation also faces "formidable challenges," including ensuring economic stability, building institutions to support sustained growth and managing oil revenue "wisely."
"In this context, we are encouraged by various institutional and legislative steps under way regarding the central bank, public financial management, and the oil sector amongst others," she said.
She added that "I have assured President Salva Kiir that the IMF will be at South Sudan's side to assist the country meet the above challenges through frequent policy dialogue and technical assistance."
The IMF has been aiding South Sudan in recent months by providing technical support and training on tax and customs administration, public financial management, oil revenue and foreign reserves management, central banking and financial supervision, as well as macroeconomic statistics.
"Together with the authorities and donors, we are working on a 3-year program of dedicated technical assistance," Lagarde said.
South Sudan, which officially became an independent country from Sudan on July 9, is among the poorest countries in the world, with a high maternal and child mortality rate, high illiteracy rate, very limited infrastructure and an economy dependent on oil exports.
At a two-day International Engagement Conference on South Sudan which ended on Thursday in Washington, Kiir emphasized his government's commitment to promoting a climate conducive to attracting and retaining new investment, including taking specific legislative actions and encouraging regional and international trade.
The conference stressed that the nation must be supported in its desire for peace to enable it to concentrate on the needs of its people.