Debt Standoff Between China and U.S. Hurts Poor Countries, Zambia’s President Warns

Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema said China and the U.S. have a responsibility to set aside their differences and help countries such as his get the debt relief they need to avoid further damage to their economies, WSJ Pro Bankruptcy reported. With finance officials from around the world gathering in Washington this week for the International Monetary Fund and World Bank biannual meetings, Mr. Hichilema’s country is emerging as a focal point of discussions on how to restructure poor nations’ debts. U.S. officials have criticized China, now the biggest government lender to the developing world, for failing to write down loans if borrowing countries such as Zambia run into trouble. In an interview from his home on the outskirts of the capital, Lusaka, Mr. Hichilema said finding an agreement on restructuring Zambia’s debt would send an important signal to other highly indebted developing countries. “Zambia is more or less like a guinea pig now,” he said. “Other countries are looking at it. How are we resolving this in Zambia?” Zambia, a country of around 20 million people and one of the world’s leading copper producers, defaulted on some $18 billion in foreign-currency debt in November 2020, the first African nation to do so during the coronavirus pandemic, when commodity prices crumpled. Read more.