China Agrees to Restructure Congo Republic’s $2.4bn Debt

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Chinese President Xi Jinping has agreed to restructure Congo Republic’s debt, Congolese Finance Minister Rigobert Roger Andely announced on Monday.

Andely welcomes the agreement to reschedule to debt, as it will help to unlock delayed International Monetary Fund loans.

Congo’s debt to China is currently at 1.3 trillion CFA francs ($2.4 billion). The year prior, the deficit was a staggering 1.48 trillion CFA francs. According to the Johns Hopkins China Africa Research Initiative, China has extended 53 loans to the DRC between 2000-2018.

“The debt is an obstacle to the conclusion and the continuation of relations with the IMF within the framework of the extended facility which was concluded in July 2019. That’s the point that sometimes hurts our country,” said Andely.

The IMF approved a loan to the African nation to the tune of $449 million. The three-year lending programme, granted in 2019, is on the condition that the Congo Republic assured the long-term sustainability of its debt.

The country, a major cobalt and copper producer, has secured billions of dollars in investment from Chinese miners over the years.

On Monday, Glencore Plc received the green light to could reopen its Mutanda Mining copper and cobalt project in the DRC by the end of 2021. Mutanda is one of the world’s biggest cobalt mines. In 2019, Glencore announced it would be closing the mine for two years after prices of cobalt fell.

In January, China granted the country some debt relief to help it overcome economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. China agreed that Congo would not have to repay its interest-free loans from China that matured at the end of 2020.

“As Congo’s most reliable friend, China wishes to continue to make its contribution to Congo’s development,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. said in the Congolese ministry’s statement.

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