A core principle of United States foreign policy is the promotion of freedom of expression. After consultations with multiple stakeholders, the Departments of Treasury and Commerce have lifted the restriction on the export of some personal telecommunications devices to Sudan such as smartphones and computers, to help give the Sudanese greater access to communication tools and better communicate amongst themselves and the world. These changes also support our aim to help Sudanese citizens integrate in the global digital community.
The recent decision of the Sudanese government to stifle the press by seizing the full print run of 15 different newspapers made it clear that the Sudanese people need more freedom to access information. This seizure further highlights the importance of this licensing change because it facilitates the ability of the Sudanese to communicate with each other and with the outside world, which is an increasingly necessary step to alleviating poverty.
Before this change, U.S. companies that wanted to export these goods, software or services to Sudan had to seek a specific license from an office in the Treasury Department and authorization from the Department of Commerce. Now, this is no longer required for hardware, software or related services. Banks, companies and private citizens will now know that the export and re-export of these items is now permissible under U.S. law.
The United States remains a committed partner to the people of Sudan, and as was the case with previous general licenses which authorized the exportation of agricultural commodities and equipment, food, medicine and medical supplies and certain academic and professional exchanges, this week’s announcement reaffirms that commitment.
We have a long history of direct people-to-people exchanges between our citizens, and as the 2013 academic and professional general license facilitated cultural, academic, and professional exchanges which allowed more of us to meet face-to-face, this new general license will promote greater communication among our people and the global community.
These changes will give Sudanese students, entrepreneurs, businesspeople, journalists, civic leaders and others better access to the telecommunications tools they need to study, create, grow, and serve their communities.