June 14, 2020 / 4:58 PM / 2 months ago

Zambia asks Paris Club for suspension of debt payments until December

LUSAKA, June 14 (Reuters) - Zambia has asked the Paris Club of creditor nations to let it suspend principal and interest payments on debts to all its official creditors from May to the end of December, the Finance Ministry said on Sunday. Zambia, Africa’s second largest copper producer which has struggled with falling demand for the metal, remained committed to servicing debt payments that fell due before May 1, a ministry spokesman said in a statement.

The request for the suspension was made in a letter to the Paris Club.

Zambia’s external government debt jumped to 45% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019, up from 37% 2018, while total debt stock was estimated at 89%, according to World Bank data.

Even before the coronavirus crisis hit international demand for raw materials, Zambia had been wrestling with growing public debt. Zambia has been listed among countries eligible for relief under the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), which aims to help nations respond to COVID-19 health challenges and economic shocks, the statement said.

Reporting by Chris Mfula; Editing by Edmund Blair

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