China presents Sri Lanka debt moratorium, IMF assist nonetheless doubtful

  • China presents debt service aid in 2022, 2023
  • Sri Lanka sources unclear if China letter will probably be sufficient for IMF
  • Broad settlement between IMF, China on Zambia might present clues

NEW DELHI/COLOMBO, Jan 24 (Reuters) – The Export-Import Financial institution of China has supplied Sri Lanka a two-year moratorium on its debt and stated it could help the nation’s efforts to safe a $2.9 billion mortgage from the Worldwide Financial Fund, in accordance with a letter reviewed by Reuters.

Regional rivals China and India are the largest bilateral lenders to Sri Lanka, a rustic of twenty-two million individuals that’s going through its worst financial disaster in seven a long time.

India wrote to the IMF earlier this month, saying it could decide to supporting Sri Lanka with financing and debt aid, however the island nation additionally wants the backing of China with the intention to attain a closing settlement with the worldwide lender.

Nonetheless, China’s Jan. 19 letter, despatched to the finance ministry, is probably not sufficient for Sri Lanka to instantly acquire the IMF’s approval for the important mortgage, Sri Lankan sources with information of the matter stated.

In accordance with the letter, China EximBank stated it was going to offer “an extension on the debt service due in 2022 and 2023 as a right away contingency measure” based mostly on Sri Lanka’s request.

“You’ll not should repay the principal and curiosity due of the financial institution’s loans throughout the above-mentioned interval,” the letter stated, including China EximBank wished to expedite the negotiation course of along with your facet relating to medium and long-term debt remedy on this interval.

By end-2020, Sri Lanka owed China EximBank $2.83 billion or 3.5% of the island’s exterior debt, in accordance with IMF information.

In whole, Sri Lanka owed Chinese language lenders $7.4 billion, or almost a fifth of public exterior debt, by end-2022, calculations by the China Africa Analysis Initiative confirmed.

“The financial institution will help Sri Lanka in your utility for the IMF Prolonged Fund Facility (EFF) to assist relieve the liquidity pressure,” China’s letter added.

An IMF spokeswoman confirmed the IMF’s administration acquired India’s dedication however didn’t touch upon the Chinese language letter.

Sri Lanka’s international and finance ministries and China’s international ministry didn’t reply to questions from Reuters.

One Sri Lankan supply, who requested to not be recognized due to the sensitivity of the confidential discussions, stated the nation had hoped for a transparent assurance from Beijing alongside the strains of what India offered to the IMF.

“China was anticipated to do extra,” the supply stated, “That is a lot lower than what’s required and anticipated of them.”


In a letter instantly addressed to the IMF, India stated final week that the financing or debt aid offered by Export-Import Financial institution of India can be in keeping with restoring debt sustainability underneath the IMF-supported program.

One other authorities supply with direct information of the talks instructed Reuters that Sri Lanka would possible share China’s letter with the IMF and search their opinion on its contents to gauge if stronger assurances had been wanted.

Evaluating the letters confirmed that India’s was “complete” in acknowledging debt restructuring parameters from the IMF for middle-income international locations similar to Sri Lanka, one other particular person with information of the debt discussions added. In the meantime China’s letter solely factors to a rebuilding of international trade reserves being key for Sri Lanka with out referencing ratios for debt and financing wants, the particular person stated.

“The truth that China’s letter might be acceptable to the IMF will probably be watched very intently by all non-public collectors,” stated the particular person on situation of anonymity.

It’s unclear what debt aid main lenders similar to China – the world’s largest bilateral lender – and India are prepared to make additional down the road.

Western international locations similar to america and multilateral lenders are urgent Beijing to supply debt aid to rising economies in misery, and have criticised Beijing for sluggish progress.

Nonetheless, information from Zambia on Monday suggests China might be enjoying a extra proactive position. Talking within the capital Lusaka, the top of the Worldwide Financial Fund Kristalina Georgieva stated the lender had reached an understanding in precept with China a couple of debt restructuring technique.

China will de facto settle for NPV (web current worth) discount on the premise of great stretching of the maturities and discount of curiosity, Georgieva stated.

Sri Lanka’s central financial institution chief P. Nandalal Weerasinghe stated on Tuesday the nation hoped to finish its debt restructuring in six months.

Reporting by Devjyot Ghoshal and Uditha Jayasinghe, further reporting by Jorgelina do Rosario and Karin Strohecker; Modifying by Jacqueline Wong, William Maclean and Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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