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What is the Key to Easing Zambia’s Debt Burden?

Zambia’s finance minister criticised the prolonged nature of the country’s debt restructuring talks, after a Chinese call for the World Bank and other multilateral lenders to offer debt relief sparked concern about further delays. Situmbeko Musokotwane said that “time is of the essence” to finish a restructuring of about $13 billion of external debt this year. Government data showed Zambia owed Chinese creditors nearly $6 billion of the total of $17 billion external debt at the end of 2021. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and other Group of Seven countries have grown increasingly frustrated about what they see as foot-dragging by China in moving forward on debt rescheduling for countries seeking help. “Zambia is in no position to reject any proposals between China and the World Bank,” Zambia’s finance ministry said in a statement published later on Monday, adding it hoped for a “successful debt restructuring early this year”. Zambia became the first African country to default in 2020 following the onset of COVID-19.