Sudan opens up gold market in bid to raise revenue

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Sudan has begun allowing private traders to export gold, a measure designed to crack down on smuggling and attract foreign currency into the country’s cash-strapped treasury. Until now Sudan’s central bank has been the sole body legally allowed to buy and export gold and set up centers to buy the metal from small-scale miners. Acting central bank governor Badr al-Din Abdel Rahim Ibrahim said on January 1 the bank would end its gold purchases entirely. Last week, a little-known private company founded in 2015, al-Fakher, became the first to take advantage of the new regulations, exporting an initial 155 kg. Any added revenue from the new system would help Sudan’s government cope with severe economic pressure as it tries to navigate a three-year political transition. The government is serving under a military-civilian power-sharing deal struck after president Omar al-Bashir was ousted last year. … Before the new regulations, the central bank bought gold at a discount to the international price. As a result, an estimated 70-80% of it was smuggled abroad, according to government officials. The smuggling has hurt. The government lost its main source of foreign exchange when South Sudan seceded from Sudan in 2011, taking most of the country’s oil with it.