The IMF, World Bank and India, current president of the Group of 20 major economies, will convene a new sovereign debt roundtable again on April 3, an IMF official said on Thursday, with an eye to accelerating work on debt relief for countries in need. The gathering of deputies will be followed by a principals’ meeting on the sidelines of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund spring meetings in Washington, the official said, but no firm date has been set.
The meeting comes amid continued delays in securing debt treatment agreements for Zambia, Ghana and Ethiopia that U.S. officials and others blame on foot-dragging by China, now the world’s largest bilateral creditor. IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva will travel to China on Friday through March 30 to meet China’s new leadership team, including new Premier Li Qiang and Vice Premier He Lifeng, who replaced Liu He as China’s top economic official.
IMF spokesperson Julie Kozack said the next meetings would build on progress made by the roundtable in bringing together creditors and debtor countries to discuss ways to accelerate the debt restructuring process. Ghana, Zambia and Ethiopia are at various stages of the process, but debt experts say China’s agreement to provide financing assurances for Sri Lanka could provide fresh momentum for moving forward on those separate cases.
IMF officials are in Lusaka, Zambia now through April 5 to review its economic reforms and remove any hurdles to the timely consideration by the IMF’s board of the first review of Zambia’s new financing package approved in August, Kozack said. She called on Zambia’s official creditors – which include China – to “reach agreement on a debt treatment in line with the financing assurances that they provided in July 2022,” adding hope that a “suitable agreement” would be reached soon.
She said the IMF was conducting technical work to prepare for talks on a potential program with Ethiopia. Kozack said IMF officials were also working closely with Ghana, which is seeking financing assurances needed for the IMF to move forward with a staff agreement reached in December on a three-year $3 billion lending program.
“We’re calling on bilateral creditors to support Ghana’s effort to restore debt sustainability, form an official creditor committee and deliver the necessary financing assurances as soon as possible,” she said.
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