China has called on Zambia’s private creditors to meet with Beijing to discuss the African nation’s debt after official creditors agreed to a restructuring of what it owes.
The Chinese Ambassador to Zambia, Du Xiaohui, called for the move on Thursday after government and internal body lenders pledged to negotiate a restructuring of the country’s debts.
It was a move welcomed by International Monetary Fund managing director Kristalina Georgieva who said it was “clearing the way” for a $1.4 billion fund programme.
The creditor committee, co-chaired by China and France, also called on private creditors to “commit without delay” to negotiating debt relief on terms at least as favourable.
“If the official creditors from China agree with the restructuring process, then the private sector from China will follow comparable terms to deal the debt issue for Zambia,” Du said at a public discussion.
“There is an invitation from co-chair China to other private creditors to have a friendly conversation on the Zambian debt issue this month,” he added.
In 2020, Zambia became the first African country in the pandemic era to default. The restructuring of its external debt, which amounted to more than $17 billion at the end of 2021, is seen by many analysts as a test case.
The first bilateral creditor meeting was held in June after Zambia’s government complained of delays to the restructuring.
Talks are taking place under the Common Framework, a debt relief process launched by the Group of 20 major economies in 2020 which has been criticised by some for being slow to yield results.
- Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara