By Goy M. Leek
Strengthening South Sudan’s Foreign Relation through Trade Initiatives
January 7, 2013 (SSNA) — As a new nation created in this magnificent techno-age of the 21st century, the Republic of South Sudan is faced with numerous challenges. One such challenge is the need to anchor the nation on a firm economic platform so as to advance the livelihoods of the populace. Being a new nation, she is now a witness to economic growth models of new emerging world economies. The countries with such economies have at times been dubbed as either “developing” countries or new global “economic partners”. These countries have at one stage of their emergence gone through the trails of turmoils currently experienced in South Sudan before gaining their economic stability. Therefore, in addition to bolstering prosperity, these countries have formed alliances such as the international economic body of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South African (BRICS) in a bid to combating economic dependency on large global financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Besides, there are the continental economic bodies such as Mercosur and the Andean Community of Nations which were later merged to form the Union of South American Nations (UNSAN) with a single objective to establishing an economic platform within South America. Regionally, there existed the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Southern African Development Community (SADC) and East African Community (EAC) clearly aiming at intensifying economic activities through partnerships and cooperation. These allied countries have adopted a cohesive strategy of unionism through trade economic practices to achieve the goal of economic stability by amalgamating their resident economic sectors.
The cooperative approach identified by the above mentioned states to achieve the economic strength through the shared market and diverse resources utilization is something that has boosted local growth and development within the alliance. At the core of such formations of alliances, there is the existence of a fundamental and an amicable diplomatic protocol and policy agenda that aims to drive the programs of the coalitions forged. The battle waged against economic dependency as branded by most of these nations is a path that has been confirmed by many economists and capitalist nations as a practice of a progressive economic independence. South Sudan therefore as a nation aspiring to establish its economic status regionally and internationally is not an exception in this scenario and thus requires an ultimate consideration of prioritizing its economic programs alongside its diplomatic discourses so as to create leverage in the world’s industrial and technological market for a profound economic stance.
At this juncture, the RoSS is also an observer to various trade and industrial activities of the already “developed” countries with established strong economic foundations. These countries are continuously strengthening their economies effectively through political and diplomatic leadership. As widely perceptible, most “developed” countries have limited economic resources and less agricultural activities to bolster their manufacturing and industrial sector. Therefore, they profoundly rely on the robust foreign markets for raw materials particularly in Africa. Their demands are being met almost instantaneously by the host “green states” unfortunately at stumpy values. The resource relation between the west and Africa which is intermittently silhouetted and embedded under an unreciprocated financial relief is indeed a delicate one. It provides the “developed” countries with greater advantage to advance their industrious business practices. On the other hand, the green states are entangled in myriads of debts unable to visualise the effects of the business practice.
So, however much the race is getting steadier and increasingly unrequited, the RoSS is also witnessing the challenges facing these “developing” and “developed” countries. These challenges range from the recent global financial crisis to the euro-zone economic crisis and from the political turmoils of the Arabian countries especially the Middle East, the northern and western Africa to the current second-phase neo-scramble for African resources by the west and the new economic super-power – China. These events though seemingly distant and outside our diplomatic and economic scope do require prominent considerations should South Sudan aspire to be considered globally while satisfying its economic agendas at home. Comprehensively, the Republic of South Sudan needs a strategized global economic exposure through diplomatic proficiency given the involvement of the international community in most of the Republic’s affairs officially from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development era to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and onto the contemporary issues such as Abyei, the oil saga, internal insecurity and many more.
Our diplomatic participation in economic forums regionally and globally is highly crucial however sensitive the internal state of affairs are. The basic reason is that the policies for the new nation need to be represented accurately and candidly with maximized advantageous outcomes; this will prevent being misconstrued as a nation with a contrary agenda other than that popularized during the CPA under the banner of democratic reforms by means of secular transparent government. The international community’s involvement in the affairs of South Sudan since its creation through to its infancy is nothing new and thus requires proper projection of the obligations and the fundamental pledges the nation made upon the inception of independence so as to retain the high-spirited jovial atmosphere of independence into the future for future generations. Thus, the best way for the Republic South Sudan to remain intact with local development which is a prime recipe in nation building is to equally brandish it’s foreign and public policy by prioritizing economic diplomacy to assert itself locally and globally. Our nation’s foreign policy requires a world-class statecraft construction or otherwise refurbishment so that it reflects our need for economic growth as per foreign relation expectations internationally and at home.
During the endorsement of the first South Sudan’s foreign policy by the cabinet ministers three weeks after independence, the preamble of the document read out by the then caretaker minister of Information, Barnaba Marial Benjamin stated that "being the newest nation state vying to carve out a respectful position amongst the world body of nations, South Sudan is keen and resolute in establishing a democratic secular transparent system of government, reflective of established international norms and standards such as the observance of the rule of law and respect for human rights,". These pledges are indeed appropriate and perhaps flamboyant; however, they can only reach their optimal impact when itemized in accordance with proper resource economic sector, suitable regulatory trade conduct and accommodating legislative programs of resident innovative potentials and skills.
Therefore, as much as we aspire to position ourselves as a nation on the global diplomatic stage, our principle objectives inclusive to the above mentioned obligations needs to also incorporate our readiness and strategic responses to immediate challenges experienced locally since they can gravely influence and overshadow our reputation internationally. To achieve this, it is vital to encourage members of the public to participate in pioneering projects towards local businesses by primarily emphasizing on the promotion of transparent, free and fair economic practices through indispensable regulations. The promotion of local businesses and renewing the trade systems at home will highly give a recognizable credibility to our intercontinental trade partners that consider engaging in mutual and bilateral relations with the Republic of South Sudan. With these few items on the list of initiatives that our foreign ministry needs to engage itself in, the nation will be best placed to operate and create a frontier and a market for our natural resources hence providing our societies with renewed sense of economic potency.
Furthermore, it will also be beneficial to engage our diplomatic missions to venture into appropriate representation of the need for economic relations by conducting robust generation of modern economic diplomacy. The frontline staffs in the foreign missions should prioritize this task to effectively implement the agendas of the government. Although it will be a daunting task for the sixty-three identified foreign missions, the task to internationally represent and translate our government’s agendas will require reflective presentation though being the first Foreign Service officers from the republic of South Sudan. Their role will be met with intricacy requiring efficacy of their competence and expertise irrespective of acquired prior experiences. Hence the needs for committing and engaging in the commercialization of our natural resources are far a greater benefit for the nation at large to administer its highly needed primary services such as healthcare, education and security. As much as our foreign missions take their responsibilities into establishing long lasting relationships with foreign countries, the government of South Sudan should not do so at the expense of the local public. Firm and dignified foreign policies that are coherent will only thrive and prosper under the effective articulation and translation of our public policies that have comprehensive public rating and ultimate benefits to the local populace.
It has now been seventeen months since the endorsement of the first foreign policy document by the council of minister of the government of South Sudan; the intentions have been widely known such as to firstly adjust the nation’s diplomatic relations and concisely delivering on that premise. Secondly, the platforms on which these ties were to be conducted have been laid out in the structures of embassies, consulate generals and permanent missions. Currently, the stages of establishing the foreign offices have now passed and the firm task of introducing and strengthening mutual bilateral relationships has begun. Therefore, lowering the guard or slacking on the policy could be highly detrimental on grounds of economic development. The quest to build a knowledge-based foreign policy to foreign publics is highly dependent on how best our missionaries (ambassadors) will educate these foreign publics on our economic and financial systems through making available means for free trade, safeguards and protection of prospective investors to embark on transparent market-based economies.
As much as our aim as a republic is to build close links with foreign publics, our diplomats and all government officials should be encouraged to make use of this 21st century’s technological capability to reach out to our own home populace to reform and renew the economic sector so as to support our local industrial sector and not just focus on the foreign policy that could be void of substance when it comes to stronger economies. So that our local economic activities remain to boost our foreign policy, the government of the Republic of South Sudan should consistently encourage our foreign staffers to innovatively create projects and programs that are aimed at enhancing the fiscal objectives of South Sudan’s foreign policy. These programs should include the likes of educational and internship scholarship programs, entrepreneurial empowerment, the enhancement of our social and public policies and even contemporarily on challenges such as the currently pending CPA protocols and various issues contributing to insecurity in South Sudan’s ten states.
Likewise, building and nurturing our young entrepreneurs to gain stability is an aspect of proper economic planning through economic diplomacy to instigate the utilization of local resources. Such an approach will give rise to an economically established society that is capable of supplying its local communities with basic products and services currently supplied by foreign bordering countries. By doing so, the government of South Sudan is set on the right foot to empowering young people fulfilling some of their talents and potentials and hence strengthening our economy where the nation will be best placed to combat minor resident challenges while getting groomed to be own community problems solvers rather than remaining ardent consumers and a shallow dumping ground for international inadequate aid.
In conclusion, it is worth mentioning that South Sudan’s foreign affairs and international cooperation ministry is in the right direction in respect to its effective establishment of foreign missions and constant engagement in relative issues at regional and international levels. However, we have to qualify a fact; the recent attempt by the RoSS to be included into the East African Community (EAC) was perhaps hastily presented. The fact that the application for membership was adjourned for further scrutiny and review against the union’s criterion presented a rather grim and an uncomfortable reality. South Sudan for so long and presumably just before the end of the CPA period had had the wild thought that it was going to be automatically amalgamated into the economic union of the Eastern African countries bloc. The categorization for the acceptance based on the proposal was somewhat allocated into a very worrying basket – together with Somalia (nothing is surprising given the history of instability within the two regions). However, to those who are familiar with Somalia’s state of affairs, you will find it remarkably preposterous for the new nation to be in the same classification with Somalia at least as per the struggle agendas and the legacy of the dispute resolution through the accredited CPA process. The reality of such a finding does not project a good reflection of South Sudan’s foreign policy especially in the EAC region as the region should have remained to be RoSS’s robust diplomatic stronghold. The Countries of East Africa; Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi are all familiar with the situation of South Sudan, therefore, subjecting RoSS’s application for further scrutiny is grossly either a lengthy conduct inappropriate to the procedures or an outright scepticism and denial of granting entry into the union. For the government of South Sudan, it is a sign that should have been closely followed with intensive probing and fact finding missions especially when the Government of South Sudan considers itself worthy of the inclusion and has shown admiration to the regional bloc. Therefore, a stronger foreign relations policy with an enshrined economic aspect will noticeably ensure a stronger South Sudan with a capacity to address its internal issues without external interference pertinent to our sovereign values.
The writer currently resides in Australia. He can be reached through the private e-mail of; [email protected]