Congo Republic Leader to Seek Chinese Help on IMF Bailout Accord

(Bloomberg) -- The Republic of Congo’s president will seek Chinese support for its negotiations with the International Monetary Fund about a bailout, a government spokesman said.

Congo owes creditors at least $9.14 billion and has been trying to secure funding from the Washington-based lender since March 2017 to revive an economy that contracted for the past two years as oil prices declined. The IMF has rescheduled board meetings to discuss the package in recent months, without saying why.

President Denis Sassou Nguesso will travel to China next week for the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation summit in Beijing on Sept. 3-4. He’ll stay on to hold talks with President Xi Jinping, government spokesman Thierry Moungalla said by phone Tuesday from the capital, Brazzaville.

“President Sassou Nguesso will be seeking the support of China in our bailout agreement negotiations with the IMF,” Moungalla said.

Congolese Prime Minister Clement Mouamba flew to Beijing last month to obtain clarity on loans to Congo by lenders including the Export-Import Bank of China. The IMF in April said it needs to know exactly what the country owes to bilateral and commercial lenders before it provides funding.

Executive Decisions

China is Congo’s biggest creditor, Moungalla said. “Any clear support from China politically and economically will assure the IMF that reforms” the government agrees to in return for a bailout will be implemented, he said.

The IMF’s executive board had been set to discuss a proposed three-year arrangement for Congo at a meeting on July 11, according to a calendar published on its website that month. The meeting didn’t take place and has yet to be rescheduled.

Ruled for two decades by Sassou Nguesso and home to sub-Saharan Africa’s fourth-biggest oil reserves, Congo ranks among the world’s 20 most corrupt nations listed by anti-graft campaigners Transparency International.

The country’s debt has more than tripled since 2010 to more than 110 percent of gross domestic product. London-based advocacy group Global Witness alleges a series of pre-financing deals by the state oil company were used by people close to or part of Sassou Nguesso’s family as vehicles for corruption. The government has rejected the claims.

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