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Uncontrolled Debt Accumulation By African Countries: China Tells Sri Lanka: We Want Our Money, Not Your Empty Airport

Sri Lanka has a debt problem. After more than a decade of taking out huge loans to build large-scale infrastructure -- most of which hasn't yet produced adequate returns -- the country is now struggling to make payments, and is looking for another way out.

A potential exit strategy was to offer China debt for equity swaps, which Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe recently proposed to China’s Ambassador Yi Xianliang. China was offered varying degrees of control over some of Sri Lanka's biggest infrastructure projects, including Mattala International Airport and portions of the Hambantota deep sea port, and Sri Lanka would receive some debt relief.

China's response to this offer was publicized earlier today in Colombo's Sunday Times: We're not interested. The Chinese ambassador replied that "it was not possible according to China’s laws."

However, China was clear that it extends its "fullest cooperation" and that such deals should be conducted via investors on proper commercial terms.

This point is key: while China's government will not swap debt for equity they will help clear the road for Chinese companies to take over key projects in Sri Lanka. IZP, a Chinese informational technology company, has been put forward as a potential purchaser of Mattala International Airport, while COSCO is looking into expanding operations at the Hambantota deep sea port.

 

Tags:Uncontrolled Debt Accumulation By African Countries: China Tells Sri Lanka: We Want Our Money, Not Your Empty Airport
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