80% of Sudan’s gold leaves the country illegally to largely end up in the United Arab Emirates. UN trade data for 2020 show a discrepancy of at least $4 billion between the UAE declared gold imports from Africa and what African countries say they exported to the UAE.
Gold smuggling is rampant in at least 9 African nations. Bloomberg’s Simon Marks explains how gold was sneaked out from Sudan to the UAE. According to Sudan’s Ministry of Finance, 80% of Sudan’s gold leaves the country illegally to largely end up in the United Arab Emirates.
United Nations trade data for 2020 show a discrepancy of at least $4 billion between the United Arab Emirates declared gold imports from Africa and what African countries say they exported to the UAE. The United Arab Emirates denies any involvement in illegal practices.
Ways to smuggle are many and often imaginative. As recently as mid December, an attempt was reported by Hyderabad customs. Customs at Hyderabad airport recovered and seized 7.3 kilograms of gold from four Sudanese passengers travelling from Dubai who had concealed the contraband in their rectums, said customs officials.
Previously Gibril Ibrahim, Minister of Finance, has pledged to develop new policies and mechanisms to tighten gold mining and export revenues. Since Sudan failed to crack down on smuggling and attract the needed foreign currency through the official channels. The government opened gold export to private companies provided they pay taxes and royalties. But the large scale gold smuggling continued.
A common factor in Africas illicit gold trade is how much of the metal transits through Dubai. Figures from the UN’s Comtrade database show that Africas share of Dubai’s gold imports rose to 50% from 16% between 2006 and 2016.