Economy will be compromised without external support

29 Jun 2022

The Zambian Finance Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane said on Tuesday that without external support, the country’s economy would be greatly compromised.

His comments were in response to questions by lawmakers over efforts to secure an International Monetary Fund (IMF) program, Reuters reports.

Zambia was the first country to default during the pandemic, in November 2020, missing payments on foreign debt worth around $17 billion.

The southern African copper producer reached a staff-level agreement on a $1.4 billion three-year facility with the IMF back in December, yet negotiations need to be completed in order to secure the funding and move quickly to restore the country’s growth and development.

However, before the IMF will unlock the funding, it requires “assurances” from other official creditors – China being the largest – they that will agree to debt relief, Financial Times reports.

Zambia’s lenders include the China International Development Cooperation Agency and others led by Eximbank of China and China Development Bank. According to the China Africa Research Initiative the loans were set under widely contrasting terms.

A call that took place recently between Zambia’s president Hakainde Hichilema and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping was viewed as a large step forward and resulted in discussions taking place in Paris earlier in June, co-led by China. According to officials in France, the negotiations were a success and talks will resume.

“It is a commitment they have made,” stated head of the French Treasury and chair of the Paris Club, Emmanuel Moulin. “But now they need to deliver.”