South Sudan taps into gum arabic exports to diversify economy

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JUBA, Dec. 10 (Xinhua) -- South Sudan on Thursday announced the country's first export of gum arabic into the European market.

A local South Sudanese company is set to export 22 tons of gum arabic to Germany later this month, officials said in Juba.

Justine Tobrin Okomi, the chief executive officer of B-Yor General Trading Company, a firm tasked with promoting South Sudan's gum arabic said he is looking forward to securing more gum arabic customers in the international market.

"The transformation of South Sudan gum arabic production into more income-generating activities has the potential to not only promote economic development through higher incomes but also to secure rural livelihoods and empower vulnerable groups," Okomi said.

Gum arabic is a natural gum made up of hardened sap of the acacia tree. It is used as an emulsifier in the manufacture of soft drinks, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.

South Sudan has large quantities of the gum arabic trees in the central, western and northern parts of the country.

But the country currently relies on its northern neighbor Sudan, for gum arabic exports.

James Wani Igga, Vice President who heads the economic cluster, said the country's entry into the European gum arabic market offers enormous opportunities for the east African country to expand its production.

Igga said the government of South Sudan is seeking to promote gum arabic exports in a bid to diversify the country's struggling economy, which has been battered by years of civil war and hyperinflation.

"To sustain the supply of gum arabic to both local and international markets, efforts are being made to support the producers," Igga said.

The official added that gum arabic has the potential to end South Sudan's over-dependence on oil revenue.

Koul Athian Mawien, minister of trade and industry said the east African country has huge investment opportunities in sectors such as agriculture, mining, livestock, infrastructure, among others.

He calls on the government to initiate an investment promotion drive to attract more foreign investment into the country. Enditem

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