Democratic Republic of Congo has received debt relief from China to aid it overcome growing economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, the foreign ministry announced.

Under the terms of the agreement, Congo will no longer be mandated to repay its interest-free loans from China that matured at the end of 2020. At a joint press conference in Kinshasa with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Congo’s foreign ministry did not disclose how much this amounted to.

China has extended debt relief worth over $2 billion to developing countries under a G20 framework aimed at giving those hammered by the COVID-19 crisis some financial breathing space.

“As Congo’s most reliable friend, China wishes to continue to make its contribution to Congo’s development,” Wang was quoted as saying in the Congolese ministry’s statement.

According to data gathered by the Johns Hopkins China Africa Research Initiative, Chinese entities have extended 53 loans to the Democratic Republic of Congo between 2000-2018, amounting to a total of $2.4 billion. Most of the lending was focused on the power, transport and mining sectors.

The major cobalt and copper producer has attracted billions of dollars in investment from Chinese miners in recent years.

Congo’s exports to China surged 30% in 2020 compared with the previous year.

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