LUSAKA: Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema said on Saturday that his country had signed a long-awaited official creditor agreement with China and India and was now negotiating with private creditors.

Zambia has struggled to revive its debt restructuring process after a deal to rework $3 billion of Eurobonds was rejected by its official creditors, including China, as they did not believe that it offered comparable debt relief to that of bondholders.

Finance Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane on Friday said the government was trying to clarify the meaning of “comparable treatment” with bondholders.

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Hichilema said the two nations had now signed the agreement.

“On the official creditors’ side, the last two countries that had not signed, China and India, have now signed. So we are now turning to the private creditors,” Hichilema said in a live address at a traditional ceremony in Chipata, a town 500 km (310.69 miles) from the capital Lusaka.

Zambia defaulted on its foreign debts in November 2020 and its restructuring has been beset by delays.

It is using the Common Framework, a process set up in response to COVID-19 by the G20, to bring in China, India and other bilateral creditors that are not members of the Paris Club of creditor nations.

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