JUBA, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) -- Sudanese business firms are eyeing lucrative investments in neighboring South Sudan, ten years after a bitter split in 2011 that could herald new trade relations and further strengthen bilateral and cultural ties.

Several big businesses based in Sudan are participating in a week-long trade expo that ended in Juba on Friday.

Riek Machar, South Sudan's First Vice President and Mohamed Hamdan Daqlu, deputy chairman of Sudan's Sovereign Council during the opening of the first-ever trade expo between the two countries called for the opening of the borders and implementation of a 2012 cooperation agreement.

The agreement allows unhindered movement of people, trade across borders and right to own property and residence for both citizens in the two countries.

Ekrima Mahmoud, Marketing Manager for Sudanese firm Export Development Group (EDG) dealing in food and agricultural exports said they see potential to set up shop in South Sudan due to demand for their products.

"People in South Sudan like okra and tomato sauce and people in Sudan like okra and tomato sauce too," Mahmoud told Xinhua in Juba on Friday.

He said that people in the two countries should be trading more with each other but this has been frustrated by the closure of the border since 2012 under the regime of former president Omar Al Bashir.

The two countries share one of Africa's longest borders which remains undemarcated due to disputes, despite the issue being handled by the African Union.

"If they open the border our products will come to South Sudan very cheap," said Mahmoud.

"We are waiting on both governments to activate the 2012 cooperation agreement, when the border opens we will be the first people to trade in South Sudan," he added.

Mahmoud disclosed that they seek to compete with businesses from regional countries for the South Sudan market after realizing that their products are affordable at discount rates compared to products from Kenya and Uganda.

"Sudanese products are very cheap, we made a survey in the market and found out that the price of tomato sauce from Uganda is 700 South Sudan pounds (4 U.S. dollars) compared to our product that is 2 dollars," he added.

"In this short period we have been here, we found South Sudan safe for investment, when I moved around Juba there is no any kind of conflict. If there is peace then it will be very easy to move goods from Khartoum, 100 tons of goods can reach South Sudan in a day or two," said Mahmoud.

Madani Abbas Madani, Sudan's Minister of Trade and Industry revealed that they aim to increase trade volume to 3 million dollars between the two countries once the border is opened.

Abdalsttar Abdullah Alshafie, Marketing and Sales Manager of Giad Motors that deals in passenger cars also called for the re-opening of the border to boost trade.

"If the border opens it will boost trade and investment opportunities will open up. We want to have South Sudanese working in Sudanese established businesses whether in banks or restaurants," he said.

Alshafie said Giad Motors remains keen to invest in Juba.

"We consider that South Sudanese and Sudanese are one people in two countries with close cultural ties. We will be entrusting people from South Sudan to deal with our products in Juba, it will contribute much to the economy and livelihoods in South Sudan," he disclosed.

Moatman Abdalbasit Mahmoud, Marketing Supervisor of Ellie Industries, a company that specializes in Gum Arabic, liquid form and fly tech products, acknowledged plans to expand into South Sudan.

"We cannot continue the talk of getting into a risky market because losses in business can occur anywhere. We hope that the border will reopen, the opening of trade corridors will benefit the two sisterly countries," said Abdalbasit.

Anna Paul, Sales Manager of Ellie Industries said that people in South Sudan have preference for Sudanese products.

"Ellie industries is a very big company in Sudan and overall people in South Sudan still prefer products coming from Sudan. We are one people and we have to do business that will benefit citizens in both countries," said Paul.

Paul added that she hopes the trade exhibition will herald a new chapter of cooperation between Sudan and South Sudan, in addition to availing opportunities for both countries. Enditem

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