KUALA LUMPUR: The Sudanese government, looking to enhance and expand bilateral relations with Malaysia, is inviting Malaysian investors to look at the business potential in the country especially in the livestock and tourism industry.
Its Ambassador to Malaysia, Khalid Abdelgadir Shukri, said that currently the volume of trade and investment between the two countries is still small with the enormous potential yet to be fully tapped.
Malaysia's major exports to Sudan are palm oil, metal products and machinery, with imports comprising mostly agricultural products such as gum Arabic, hibiscus and black seeds, as well as petroleum products.
"Malaysia used to export some furniture and electrical devices in early 2000. But for several reasons, especially competition from China, we no longer see many Malaysian products in Sudan although the quality is good," he told Bernama in a recent interview.
Shukri said Malaysian investors can still tap into other areas and sectors, with the best area for cooperation between Malaysia and Sudan being the livestock and agriculture industry.
"Malaysia imports about 70% of its meat consumption and Sudan is the best venue to import from for many reasons. (The meat) is very tasty, organic and chemical-free, and you can be sure it is 100% halal," he said.
Sudan has great agricultural resources and the country also enjoys an excellent infrastructure for animal production, he said, noting that Malaysia can become a hub for exporting meat from Sudan to other Asean countries.
Sudan's unique location in the middle of the continent also makes it the central hub for supplying neighbouring markets, being a gateway to land-locked countries such as Chad, Central Africa, Ethiopia and South Sudan.
Another potential sector, tourism, is growing steadily into one of the main contributors to Sudan's economy, said Shukri.
"Sudan has many historical and archaeological sites recognised by UNESCO. We have hundreds of pyramids dated up to 2,000 years ago and we have great museums.
"The country is also blessed with world-famous diving sites off the Red Sea coast, mountains, spring water and wildlife," said Shukri.
Sudan is rich with antiquities of historical civilisations and remnants of great kingdoms, including palaces, temples, churches and pyramids besides the antiquities of Islamic civilisation.
Foreign tourists are mostly from Europe, Russia and Arab Gulf States.
Shukri said that to attract foreign investment, Sudan offers many advantages and incentives to investors, including tax exemption of up to 10 years, while the country has one of the best investment laws in the region.
"The laws don't differentiate between locals and foreigners. You will be treated as Sudanese.
"Investors have the right to repatriate the money, capital and profit back to their own country or anywhere," Shukri said.
The country has also been facilitating and simplifying investment procedures in one channel through its Investment Ministry since 2002.
Currently, China is the biggest foreign investor in the country of 41 million people.
Shukri said Malaysia was one of the earliest countries to invest in Sudan through Petronas in 1995, after the establishment of Khartoum-Kuala Lumpur relations in 1991.
"Unfortunately, most of the wells now belong to South Sudan. Some are still in areas in Sudan. But Petronas still has a big headquarters in Khartoum, one of the biggest in Africa," he said.
South Sudan seceded from Sudan and became an independent state in 2011.
Shukri gave an assurance that Sudan is a stable and secure country due to the consistent endeavours taken by the government in handling peace agreements with rebel factions.
"Security in Sudan is very stable. The government has done its utmost to stabilise the country.
"Now the situation in Sudan is safe and there are no questions about the security aspect," he said, adding that Sudanese people are friendly and peaceful in nature. - Bernama