China's government on Friday confirmed that it is offering an extension on the debt service due in 2022 and 2023, which means Sri Lanka will not have to repay the principal and interest due on the Export-Import Bank's loans during that period.
"On January 19, the Export-Import Bank of China, as the official bilateral creditor, provided a financing support document to the Ministry of Finance, Economic Stabilization and National Policies of Sri Lanka, saying the Bank is going to provide an extension on the debt service due in 2022 and 2023," said a foreign ministry spokeswoman, Mao Ning.
"The Bank would like to have friendly consultation with Sri Lanka regarding medium- and long-term debt treatment in this window period; and the Bank will make best efforts to contribute to the debt sustainability of Sri Lanka."
The Bank has also noted that it will support Sri Lanka in its loan application to the IMF; in the meantime, the Bank has called on commercial creditors including the International Sovereign Bondholders to provide debt treatment in an equally comparable manner, and encourage multilateral creditors to do their utmost to make corresponding contributions.
"The financing support document is aimed at combining an “immediate contingency measure” and “medium- and long-term debt treatment” to rapidly, effectively and truly resolve Sri Lanka’s debt issue," she said.
"As far as I have learned, China is the first official bilateral creditor to have taken the initiative to announce debt extension to Sri Lanka. This speaks to China’s sincerity and action to support Sri Lanka’s effort to achieve debt sustainability.
China calls on all other creditors of Sri Lanka, especially multilateral creditors, to take synchronized, similar steps and give effective, strong support to Sri Lanka to help the country emerge from its default status at an early date and eventually work out an arrangement for Sri Lanka to achieve medium- and long-term debt sustainability.
China also calls on the IMF to take into full consideration the urgency of the situation in Sri Lanka and provide loan support as soon as possible to relieve the country’s liquidity strain.
"Going forward, China will continue to support relevant financial institutions in actively working out the debt treatment," she said.
"We will work with relevant countries and international financial institutions to jointly play a positive role in helping Sri Lanka navigate the situation, ease its debt burden and achieve sustainable development.