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Sudan Plans to Buy 100 Tractors From Deere & Co., Minister Says

Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Sudan plans to buy 100 tractors from Deere & Co. after the U.S. eased sanctions on the African country, allowing exports of farming equipment, Agriculture Minister Abdel Haleem al-Mutafi said.

“We have a deal in the pipeline, not yet concluded,” al-Mutafi said in an interview in the capital, Khartoum.

State-owned Agricultural Bank of Sudan would buy the tractors from Moline, Illinois-based Deere & Co., the world’s largest farm equipment maker, and then provide the machines to “farmers and large institutions,” al-Mutafi said. He didn’t say how much Sudan will pay for the vehicles. The country is looking to buy another 500 tractors and associated machinery before May, the minister said.

The U.S. eased sanctions on Sudan in October in a bid to help the country reduce its reliance on oil and aid peace efforts between the country’s north and its south, which starts voting Jan. 9 on whether to form an independent country.

The vote will test a 2005 peace agreement, brokered by the U.S., the U.K. and Norway, that ended a two-decade civil war between the largely Muslim north and the oil-producing south, where Christianity and traditional beliefs dominate. About 2 million people died in the conflict.

The U.S. classifies Sudan as a sponsor of terrorism and has applied economic sanctions since 1997. The easing of restrictions is part of U.S. efforts to shore up the peace agreement. It has also promised to invest in non-oil industries and resume diplomatic relations if the transition is smooth.

Al-Mutafi said that Sudan began talks with several Finnish companies on purchasing an initial batch of 100 tractors of the additional 500 it’s seeking. The remainder may come from countries including Italy, Iran or Turkey, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Maram Mazen in Khartoum at mmazen@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at ccarpenter2@bloomberg.net

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