S.Sudan inflation dips to 42.9 pct in September

JUBA, Oct 9 (Reuters) - South Sudan's annual inflation eased slightly to 42.9 percent in September from 43.3 percent in August, driven mainly by a dip in the cost of food and non-alcoholic beverages, official data showed on Tuesday.

South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in July 2011 and has introduced severe austerity measures to combat an economic crisis caused by the shutdown of its oil industry in January this year.

In September, the South signed trade and oil deals with its old civil war foe Sudan that will allow for the oil wells to be turned back on. Before the shutdown oil contributed 98 percent of state income in one of the world's least developed countries.

The consumer price index rose by 0.3 percent in September compared to August, the National Bureau of Statistics said in its monthly bulletin.

Month-on-month, the cost of food and non-alcoholic beverages rose by 0.1 percent in September, the data showed. The cost of healthcare rose 32.5 percent in September.

Food makes up 71.39 percent of the inflation basket. Some analysts have said actual inflation is higher than the official figures.

The South Sudanese pound has fallen sharply since oil revenues dried up. But it recently regained some ground after the central bank signed a $100 million agreement with Qatar National Bank to help fund imports.

South Sudan needs to import most of its food as it has no sizeable industry outside the oil sector.

Following the agreements signed last month, Sudan this week announced it will re-open its border with the South. Cross-border trade largely stopped ahead of South Sudan's secession, severing historic supply routes from the north for food, fuel and consumer goods.

South Sudan's largest oil company has said it expects to resume oil production, roughly 180,000 barrels per day, within three months.

(Reporting by Hereward Holland; Editing by Ulf Laessing and Patrick Graham)