China to reduce debt of Portuguese-speaking African countries

28 February 2006

Beijing, China, 28 Feb – China’s deputy Trade Minister, Wei Jianguo, said Monday in Beijing that China would reduce the debt owed to it by Portuguese-speaking African countries, but gave no further details.

Wei was speaking at a press conference to present the second ministerial meeting of Forum Macau, which will take place in September in the Special Administrative Region of Macau.

Wei did not specify which Portuguese-speaking countries would benefit from the debt reduction, what the total value would be or the percentage of debt to be dropped.

In September 2005, in a speech to the United Nations (UN) on the occasion of its 60th anniversary, Chinese President Hu Jintao announced debt reduction and the granting of 8.4 billion euros in low-interest loans to developing countries, as well as customs tax exemption for exports from the 39 poorest countries in the world.

The Department of International Aid of the Chinese Trade Ministry, contacted by Portuguese news agency Lusa, declined to give details of the amounts owed by Portuguese-speaking African countries to China, saying only that, “those figures may be made public during the second ministerial meeting of the forum.”

None of the embassies of Portuguese-speaking African countries in Beijing gave the value of debt of their country to China, but at the end of 2004 China granted Angola a low interest loan of US$2.3 billion for rebuilding railroads and administrative buildings.

In January, China approved a US$2.4 million loan for Cape Verde and another loan of around US$3 million for Guinea Bissau.

In 1999, China dropped US$22 million of the debt it was owed by Mozambique, or 69 percent of the country’s total debt to China at the time. (macauhub)