Browsing: Special Drawing Rights

The BRI is one of China’s biggest infrastructure projects. This disturbing state of affairs has raised the alarm over Africa's debt situation. www.theexchange.africa

Consequently, China has carefully abandoned its strong preference for bilateral dealing with problem debtors. The Chinese state avoids being a rule-taker compared to the West on debt issues. Still, it increasingly appears to recognize that multilateral approaches – ideally on an ‘a la carte’ basis – can help contain both the pressures on its African partners and its challenges.

China, therefore cautiously supported the DSSI for some African nations when it came to effect in April 2020, and similarly, the Common Framework launched in 2021. However, the slow implementation of the Common Framework brings to light four specific challenges linked to China’s role.  

First is China’s discomfort with the independent and central role played by the IMF in controlling how much a country can afford to pay through its debt sustainability analysis (DSA). Second is the alarm of privates, and public sector lenders in the West over a lack of accountability in the total amount of debt China lent to African nations. 

An action plan totalling US$40 billion in trade finance, commercial investments, and a share of Chinese SDRs was announced at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (Focac) in late November (SDR).

Despite the eye-catching headline, the actual amount pledged at the two most recent forums in 2015 and 2018 is far less than the US$60bn promised.

China has used concessional loans to fund a wide range of continent-wide infrastructure projects, including trains, airports, highways, and power plants.