Donors Press Congo over $9bn China Deal

Western donors are putting pressure on the Democratic Republic of Congo not to accept Chinese financing for a minerals-for-infrastructure deal, valued at $9 billion. From the Financial Times:

Most western donors have said they support the deal “in principle” because it gives Congo access to capital on a scale it could not receive from anywhere else. But, led by the Paris Club of creditors and the IMF, they have raised objections to specific provisions.

The focus of concern, according to western diplomats in Kinshasa, is that the deal would give the Chinese consortium unprecedented state financial guarantees, including some that earmark government revenues and make China a privileged creditor. But Wu Zexian, China’s ambassador to Congo, indicated that it would not be so easy. “They [western institutions] are wrong to ask Congo to remove the state guarantee. That is blackmail,” he said. “This is a poor country that needs to develop. Why force the country to modify the clause?

“We cannot accept that. It’s discriminatory.”

When the deal was struck in 2008 China’s appetite for the metals was insatiable, but if it is scaled back or unravels, it could mark a turning point in China’s quest for resources, which has threatened to marginalise western donors.

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