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苏丹:机遇和挑战


文I本刊记者 许成之


● 苏丹:投资热土

农业:可耕地面积相当于一个墨西哥

矿产:鼓励投资的新领域

● 旅游业:等待开发的热土

● 多重挑战:有待克服

一下飞机,就可以感受到苏丹的“热情”,7月份的喀土穆平均温度在摄氏40度左右。步入停机楼,等待出海关之际,接机的苏丹兄弟们就闯进来握手欢迎,虽然彼此语言并不通畅,热情可以充分感受。

一路走下去,穿过喀土穆市区,直观印象这是一片“沉睡”的土地,因为道路、建筑、市区都有那么很大的改善空间。其实,“沉睡”这个词并不准确。在2011年南苏丹独立出去之前,苏丹经济发展迅速,国家建设充满活力。 但是,南苏丹带走了75% 的石油资源,苏丹经济遭受重大挫折。

2017年10月,美国宣布解除对苏丹长达20年的经济制裁。受此消息鼓舞,苏丹社会上下充满兴奋,盼望重回国际社会,盼望借此重新获得发展机遇。当地人期待,随着金融限制的取消,苏丹将重返国际金融体系。海外投资会蜂拥而来,经济因此而改善。喀土穆的热浪中弥漫着热望和乐观。


苏丹:投资热土

“苏丹这个名字是用来描述非洲大沙漠南部,一致延续到大西洋东部,延伸至红海和印度洋西部的区域。现如今,这是用来描述埃及南边,尼罗河中部地域。” 苏丹人在官方宣传册这样介绍自己的国家。据说,苏丹的英文名字“Sudan”是希腊文字的复数形式,意思为黑人。苏丹位于阿拉伯世界和非洲之间,其人口以阿拉伯为主,信奉伊斯兰教。 

苏丹自然资源依然非常丰富,发展潜力不容小觑。除已知的石油、天然气之外,苏丹还拥有铁、 银、铬、铜、锰、金、铝、铅、铀、锌、钨、石棉、石膏、云母、滑石、钻石 和木材等丰富的自然资源。这个国家也有着可供农业、林业、牧业和渔业开发的自然资源和条 件,如沃土、森林、草原、水源和阳光等。

在过去的几十年中,苏丹因为南北内战、达尔富尔等问题,付出巨大的精力和代价。苏丹还遭受来自西方的制裁和压力,外部发展环境恶劣。在非洲国家致力于工业化和经济发展的今天,我们聚焦苏丹,重新审视这个兼具阿拉伯和非洲特色的国家所蕴藏的资源、潜在的机会和面临的挑战。


农业:可耕地面积相当于一个墨西哥

苏丹位于撒哈拉沙漠和中东交汇之处,农业资源丰富。尽管这个国家的北部几乎为沙漠覆盖,它却有着大约2000万公顷(约4942万亩)的可耕地面积,相当于一个墨西哥。目前只有15%的可耕地得到开垦和利用,发展潜力巨大。

苏丹境内南北气候差异较大,北部是炎热的大陆沙漠气候,中部为热带干湿气候,南方是热带旱、雨两季气候,最南端的边境地区是热带雨林气候。多样的气候为种植多种农作物提供了自然条件。农业是苏丹经济的主要支柱,占国内生产总值的45%,创造了53% 的就业机会。

尼罗河、青尼罗河和白尼罗河以及支流流经苏丹全境,给苏丹带来了大量的水资源。足够的水资源是开展农业生产的必备,可以为农业生产提供给便利的灌溉用水。有数字显示,苏丹的尼罗河用水配额目前仅仅使用10%左右。因此,配以必要的设备和投资,灌溉农业发展有潜力。

苏丹主要农作物有高粱、玉米和小麦等,经济作物主要有棉花、芝麻、阿拉伯胶和花生等。其中,棉花是苏丹的主要农产品,其长绒棉产量仅次于埃及,居世界第二,也是苏丹出口商品的主要品种。阿拉伯胶的产量为世界之最,占全球总产量的60%到80%。

苏丹政府重视农业发展,甚至把农业视为苏丹 “永恒的石油”,因为农业不仅关系国家食品安全问题,也是提供就业的重要领域。苏丹全国人口4500万左右,其中农业人口占80%。


矿产:鼓励投资的新领域

根据世界银行统计,苏丹2017年国内生产总值(GDP)1189亿美元,超过绝大部分非洲国家,包括对外开放程度更高的肯尼亚和埃塞俄比亚。肯、塞两国的GDP都少于800亿美元,人口却比苏丹还多。 

这个成绩大部分要归功于苏丹的石油资源。苏丹从1999年开始出口石油,很快石油就成了这个国家主要的创汇商品。石油出口带动苏丹经济增长,使之一度成为非洲经济发展最快的国家之一。

2011年南苏丹宣布独立,苏丹石油收入大幅减少。为了保持恢复经济发展,苏丹政府寻求将包括黄金在内的多种矿产开发作为经济发展的重点之一。经济转型似乎获得一定的成功,比如,苏丹矿业部今年初宣布,苏丹2017年黄金产量超过100吨,黄金生产和出口在非洲国家中均名列前茅。

除了石油和黄金,苏丹其他矿产资源也非常丰富,具有分布广、储量大的特点,包括铁、银、铬、铜、锰、金、铅、锌、镍、钨等金属矿产,大理石、重晶石、蓝晶石、水泥用灰岩、砾石、硅灰石、石膏、云母、盐和建筑用砂等非金属矿产。

苏丹矿业资源有着自己的特点。苏丹被认为成矿条件好,国土面积大,找矿潜力也大。在基础设施方面,相对于大多数非洲国家而言,苏丹的陆路交通、海空港建设、电力、通讯网等都算颇为完备。

同时,苏丹鼓励外来投资,曾经不止一次出台鼓励海外投资的法律或条规。根据苏丹《2013年国家投资鼓励法》的规定,只要矿业项目符合国家战略性投资这个条件,投资者可享受至少10年免除企业所得税和进口产品关税等优惠。个人所得税也有相应的减免措施。


旅游业:等待开发的热土

南苏丹独立前,苏丹是非洲面积最大的国家,其旅游资源非常丰富。根据苏丹旅游、古迹和野生动物部的介绍,“苏丹被认为是世界上拥有多样化和独特旅游景点的十个国家中的一个。”

苏丹一个重要的地理特征就是尼罗河贯穿南北。青、白尼罗河流经苏丹,在首都喀土穆相互交汇。傍晚时分,尼罗河大桥上男男女女,三三两两。或翘首蜿蜒的河流,目送夕阳西下,或注视着水上的游船和游客。尼罗河岸边是热闹的当地小吃摊点,咖啡或者红茶。青、白尼罗河汇合处,一条青色,一条白色,从泾渭分明到水乳交融,是自然界的一个奇观。

除了自然景观,苏丹也富有历史文化资源,从纳普塔王国遗址到麦罗埃王国遗址,从基督教努比亚到伊斯兰化的苏丹,悠久的历史让人可以尽情脑补。在这些古老遗迹里,最著名也许要算苏丹金字塔了。

苏丹金字塔没有埃及那样高大,也没有埃及的盛名,还不够为人所知。因此,游客往往发现这里是个“安静”的旅游景点,没有热闹拥挤的人群,只有阳光、沙丘和厚重的历史。苏丹东北部临近红海,其海岸线延伸近700多公里,拥有优质沙滩。苏丹境内的红海海水仍然未经开发,清澈透亮,是潜水的好去处。

苏丹旅游资源丰富,却少开发,缺乏管理。如果投入一定的资金,对景点进行修缮和管理,配以应有的服务设施,这将不但给投资者带来回报,也会为当地经济发展贡献良多,并为当地人创造更多的就业机会。


多重挑战:有待克服

有机遇的地方往往也有挑战。20年的制裁,再加上南苏丹的分离,苏丹经济备受打击,甚至看起来很羸弱。这种“不健康”在多个方面都有所显示。2017年,苏丹多地多次出现石油供应短缺。今年早些时候,石油短缺严重,甚至瘫痪了全国的运输业,迫使农业和工业生产停顿下来。

供电的稳定性也带来隐忧,很多生产单位不得不自备发电机。不过,这种状况有望在不久的将来得到改善。苏丹近期与北部邻居埃及签署了合作协议,建立一个价值数千万美元的电力传输线系统。按照计划, 埃及可以在未来两个月内向苏丹提供300兆瓦的电力,此后将在后期增加600兆瓦,直到达3000兆瓦。我国公司承建的苏丹上阿特巴拉水电站1号机组6月11日成功并网发电。至此,电站4台机组全部投产发电,预计将极大缓解苏丹电力短缺问题。

尽管美国解除经济制裁,苏丹经济并未明显转好。通货膨胀率继续上升,苏丹镑对美元持续大幅贬值。投资者对此或许有必要密切观察。在极端情况下,苏丹镑的大幅贬值将会让投资者的利润付诸东流。在喀土穆,一些星级酒店坚持让客人以美元付款,拒绝当地货币苏丹镑。

国际货币基金组织(IMF)去年在一份报告中称,到2016年底,苏丹的外债达到了524亿美元,占国内生产总值的111%。IMF强调需要将苏丹从美国的“支持恐怖主义国家”名单中移除,那样才能让苏丹从债务减免中受益。目前,美国仍然没有意向把苏丹从支持恐怖主义国家名单上除去。

由于美国制裁,大量与苏丹进行贸易往来的第三国公司也受到波及。2014年,法国巴黎银行就因涉嫌苏丹业务被迫向美国支付高达89.7亿美元的罚款。这让绝大部分金融机构都对苏丹避而远之。即使美国取消制裁,这些金融机构今天似乎仍然不敢轻易展开苏丹业务,苏丹短期内难以获得外部资金信贷支持。

不久前,南苏丹和苏丹同意加强合作以提高石油产量,这是一个令人鼓舞的双赢决策。因为,尽管石油资源和石油生产主要在南苏丹境内,但所有石油出口管道都位于苏丹,通过苏丹港,再销往世界其他国家。如果一切顺利,南苏丹将因为重启石油生产而获得收益,苏丹也将从每桶25美元的管道过境费上有所收益。考虑到石油收入是两国获得外汇硬通货的主要来源,这将给苏丹的经济压力带来极大的缓解。(编辑:张梅)



Xu Chengzhi,  China Investment  


● Sudan: land for investment 

Agriculture: an arable land equivalent to Mexico 

Minerals: a new frontier attracting investment

● Tourism: an area crying for investment 

● Challenges: to be overcome

When we get off the plane, we immediately felt the "enthusiasm" of Sudan. The average temperature in Khartoum in July is around 40 degrees Celsius. While we were waiting to go through the customs, the three Sudanese brothers who were to pick us up were already there. They waved at us with big smiles, and shook our hands. Although we don’t speak the same language, the friendship, enthusiasm and warmth could be fully felt. 

Going all the way through the capital city of Khartoum, it is a visual impression that this is a “sleeping” land, because roads, buildings, and urban areas have a lot of room for improvement. However, the word "sleeping" is not accurate. Before the independence of South Sudan in 2011, Sudan’s economy enjoyed robust growth and the country’s construction was full of vitality. However, South Sudan has taken away 75% of its oil resources and the Sudanese economy has suffered major setbacks. 

In October 2017, the United States announced the lifting of economic sanctions against Sudan, which lasted for some 20 years. Encouraged by this news, the Sudanese society is full of excitement and expects to be embraced by the international community, hoping to regain development opportunities. Locals expect that Sudan will be able to return to the international financial system with the removal of financial restrictions. Overseas investment will come in and the economy will better off. The heat wave in Khartoum is matched with enthusiasm and optimism.


Sudan: land for investment 

 “The name Sudan is used to describe the southern part of the African desert that continues to the eastern part of the Atlantic Ocean and extends to the Red Sea and the western part of the Indian Ocean. Today, it refers to the southern part of Egypt and the central part of the Nile.” The Sudanese describe their country as such in their official brochure. It is said that the country’s English name "Sudan" is a plural form of Greek word meaning black. Located between the Arab world and Africa, Sudan is dominated by Arabs and the people are mostly Muslims.

The natural resources of Sudan are very rich and the development potential cannot be underestimated. In addition to known resources such as oil and natural gas, Sudan also boasts of rich natural minerals such as iron, silver, chromium, copper, manganese, gold, aluminum, lead, uranium, zinc, tungsten, asbestos, gypsum, mica, talc, diamonds and wood. The country also has the necessary natural resources and conditions for agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry and fisheries development, such as fertile soil, forests, grasslands, water and sunlight.

In the past few decades, Sudan struggled, on the political side, to deal with civil war between the north and the south, as well as challenges in Darfur. Sudan was also subject to sanctions and pressure from the West, which created a harsh external environment for national development. Today, when African countries are increasingly committed to industrialization and economic growth, we decide to focus on Sudan and re-examine the resources, potential opportunities and challenges of this country.


Agriculture: an arable land equivalent to Mexico 

Sudan is located at the intersection of the Sahara Desert and the Middle East and is rich in agricultural resources. Although the northern part of the country is mostly covered by the desert, it has about 20 million hectares of arable land, equivalent to the size of Mexico. At present, only 15% of such land has been reclaimed and utilized, and its development potential is huge. 

The climate varies greatly between the north and the south in Sudan. The northern part is hot with desert, the central part has a tropical dry and wet climate, the south has a tropical climate with both a dry and rainy season respectively, and the southernmost border area is a tropical rain forest climate. The diverse climate provides natural conditions for growing a variety of crops. Agriculture is the mainstay of the Sudanese economy, accounting for 45% of GDP and creating 53% of jobs. 

The Nile, Blue Nile and White Nile rivers and tributaries flow through the entire territory of the Sudan, bringing a lot of water to its land. Sufficient water resources are essential for agricultural production and can provide convenient irrigation water for agricultural production. Figures show that, Sudan has used only 10% of the water quota for the Nile in its territory. Therefore, with the necessary equipment and investment, there is potential for irrigated agricultural development.

The main crops in Sudan include sorghum, corn and wheat, and the main economic crops are cotton, sesame, gum arabic and peanuts. Among them, cotton is the main agricultural product of Sudan, and its long-staple cotton production is second only to Egypt in the whole world. It is also the main product of export of Sudan. The production of gum arabic is the highest in the world, accounting for 60% to 80% of global production.

The Sudanese government attaches great importance to agricultural development and even regards agriculture as the “permanent oil” of Sudan, because agriculture is not only related to national food security issue, but also an important area for providing employment. Sudan has a population of around 45 million, of which 80% work in the agricultural sector.


Minerals: a new frontier attracting investment

According to World Bank statistics, Sudan’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017 was 118.9 billion U.S. dollars, exceeding most African countries, such as Kenya, which is regarded as more open to the outside world. In comparison, Kenya has a GDP of less than $80 billion and a population larger than that of Sudan. 

Much of this achievement is due to Sudan’s once rich oil resources. Sudan began exporting oil in 1999, and soon oil became the country's main commodity of export. Oil exports had driven Sudan’s economic growth, making it one of the fastest growing economies in Africa.

In 2011, South Sudan announced its independence and Sudan’s oil revenues decreased significantly. In order to achieve economic recovery, the Sudanese government turned to develop a variety of minerals, including gold, as one of the priorities of economic growth. The economic transformation seems to have achieved some success. For example, the Sudanese Ministry of Minerals announced earlier this year that Sudan’s gold production in 2017 exceeded 100 tons, and gold production and exports were among the best in African countries.

In addition to oil and gold, Sudan's other mineral resources are also very rich, with a wide distribution and large reserves, including iron, silver, chromium, copper, manganese, gold, lead, zinc, nickel, tungsten and other metal minerals, marble, heavy crystal Non-metallic minerals such as stone, kyanite, cement limestone, gravel, wollastonite, gypsum, mica, salt and construction sand. 

Sudanese mining resources have their own advantages. Sudan is considered to have good ore-forming conditions, large land area and great potential for prospecting. In terms of infrastructure, compared with most African countries, Sudan's land transportation, sea and airport construction, electricity, and communication networks are quite complete. 

At the same time, Sudan actively seeks foreign investment and has introduced laws or regulations that encourage overseas investment. According to the provisions of the National Investment Encouragement Act of 2013, as long as the mining project meets the conditions of national strategic investment, investors can enjoy preferential treatment for exemption of corporate income tax and tariffs on imported products for at least 10 years. There are also corresponding reductions and exemptions for personal income tax.


Tourism: an area crying for investment 

Before the independence of South Sudan, Sudan was the largest country in Africa and its tourism resources were abundant. According to the Ministry of Tourism, Antiquities and Wildlife of Sudan, Sudan is considered to be one of the ten countries with diverse and unique tourist attractions in the world. 

An important geographical feature of Sudan is that the Nile runs through the north and south. The Blue and White Nile rivers meet each other through Sudan in Khartoum. In the evening, young men and women, in two or three, will have fun on the Nile bridge, either staring at the river, watching the sunset, or spotting the boats and tourists on the water. On the banks of the Nile are lively local food stalls with Sudanese snacks, coffee or tea. The confluence of the Blue and White Nile River, a blue color and a white color, is a wonder of nature.

In addition to the natural landscape, Sudan is also rich in historical and cultural resources, from the ruins of the Kingdom of Napta to the Kingdom of Meroe, from the Christian Nubia to the Islamized Sudan, a long history that allows people to time travel to those dynasties. Among these ancient ruins, the most famous may be Sudan’s Pyramids. 

Sudan’s Pyramids are not as tall or grand as those in Egypt, nor as famous. There’s clearly a need to further promote the historical remains. As a result, visitors often find it a “quiet” tourist attraction, with no crowds, only sunshine, sand dunes and heavy history. And the northeastern part of Sudan is close to the Red Sea, whose coastline stretches for nearly 700 kilometers with quality beaches. The Red Sea waters in Sudan are still unexplored, clear and translucent, and are an ideal place to dive. Sudan has abundant tourism resources but few developments and lack of management. With investment, there’ll be renovation, better management and the supply of necessary service facilities. That investment is likely to bring about handsome returns, and will also help contribute to the local economic development and create more jobs for the local people. 


Challenges: to be overcome

Where there are opportunities, there are often challenges. After 20 years of sanctions, coupled with the secession of South Sudan, the Sudanese economy has been hit hard and even looks weak. This "unhealthy" state is shown in many ways. In 2017, there were rounds of oil shortages in Sudan. Earlier this year, the shortage was severe and almost paralyzed the nation's transportation, with people queuing for hours at the gas stations. 

The stability of power supply also leads to concerns, many production units have to prepare their own generators. However, this situation is expected to improve in the near future. Sudan recently signed a cooperation agreement with northern neighbor Egypt to establish a power transmission system worth tens of millions of dollars. According to the plan, Egypt can supply 300 megawatts of electricity to Sudan in the next two months, and will increase to 600 megawatts in the next stage until it reaches 3,000 megawatts. Unit 1 of the Sultan Upper Atbara and Setit Dam Hydropower project, which was built by Chinese companies, was successfully connected to the grid on June 11. At this point, all four units of the power station have been put into operation, which is expected to greatly alleviate the power shortage in Sudan.

Despite the lifting of economic sanctions by the United States, the Sudanese economy has not improved as quickly as expected. The inflation rate continues to rise and the Sudanese pound continues to depreciate against the US dollar. Investors may be advised to pay attention to the changes. In extreme cases, the sharp depreciation of the Sudanese pound could wipe out the investors' profits. In Khartoum, some high-end hotels insist on receiving in US dollars in cash while rejecting the local currency. 

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in a report last year that by the end of 2016, Sudan’s external debt reached 52.4 billion US dollars, accounting for 111% of GDP. The IMF stressed the need to remove Sudan from the U.S. list of "sate sponsors of terrorism," so that Sudan can benefit from debt relief. At present, the United States still hasn’t shown any intention to remove Sudan from such a list. 

Due to US sanctions, a large number of Western companies that trade with Sudan have also been affected. In 2014, BNP Paribas was forced to pay the U.S. $8.97 billion in fines for alleged Sudanese operations. This has left many financial institutions very cautious to resume services in Sudan, even if the U.S. sanctions are gone. 

However, the prospect of change seems to be in the air. South Sudan and Sudan has recently agreed to strengthen cooperation to increase oil production, which is an encouraging win-win decision. Although oil resources and production are mainly in South Sudan, oil pipelines are located in Sudan. If all goes well, South Sudan will benefit from restarting oil production, and Sudan will also gain from a $25 pipeline transit fee per barrel. Considering that oil revenue is the main source of hard currency for the two countries, this will bring great relief to Sudan's economic pressure.