Debt relief on the table as Ethiopians visit China
A high-level Ethiopian delegation’s visit to Beijing has led to speculation about how China is dealing with the African nation’s deepening debt crisis, but a spokeswoman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has denied any plans to restructure Ethiopian debt.
“China takes the debt issue of developing countries seriously and has actively contributed to alleviating developing countries’ debt burden and promoting their sustainable development,” said Mao Ning during Tuesday’s press conference. “We also call on developed countries and international multilateral financial institutions to take stronger actions in providing financial support to Africa to help it achieve sustainable development.”
Her response followed questions about Ethiopian media reports that suggested China was open to alternatives including increased shipments of raw materials to China and new project awards for Chinese investors.
The reports followed meetings in Beijing, led by Ethiopian finance minister Ahmed Shide. He was joined by finance and investment ministers who met with the Export Import Bank, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the China Development Bank, and other creditors.
Chinese authorities recently awarded tariff-free access to 98% of all Ethiopian exports, a policy that begins Wednesday. Less is known about the US$13.7 billion that Ethiopia owes to China, at least some of which was reportedly forgiven in January following negotiations between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang.
Image: Embassy of Ethiopia in Beijing