LUSAKA, Zambia (AP) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is in Zambia on the second leg of her African tour, a destination that aims to boost America’s economy and relationships while in a metropolis that appears to be dominated by Chinese dollars.
Yellen arrived via the renovated Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, which was expanded in 2015 with Chinese money, and drove past old billboards and newly built companies with Chinese billboards, evidence of Beijing’s influence and increased competition with the US.
But the growth that the country has had has come with a huge debt. Zambia became the first country in Africa to default on its debt during the pandemic when it defaulted on a $42.5 million loan in November 2020. Negotiations on how to deal with the debt are ongoing.
The manner in which Zambia’s debt was renegotiated with the Chinese will provide a test of how China will be lenient with other countries with more and more debt problems.
Debt will be a topic of discussion on Monday when Yellen will meet with Zambia’s president and finance minister to press for the Chinese to continue negotiations. He will also visit a drug manufacturing facility that benefits from American investment to show what he sees as a model of success.
“Many African countries now have a lot of unsustainable debt. And it is undoubtedly a problem. And a lot of it has to do with Chinese business in Africa,” Yellen said Saturday in an interview with The Associated Press in Senegal, the first leg of her African tour.
However, Yellen insists that her visit was not to compete with China.
“We want to expand our relationship,” he said “We see more and more young people who need opportunities and economic growth.”
“We have many government programs and international programs that are targeted to support infrastructure projects,” he said. Here.”
Yellen said the US wants to invest in companies with contracts that “are transparent, that we have projects that bring great benefits to African people and do not leave a legacy of unsustainable debt.”
Experts say a long-term debt crisis could prevent countries like Zambia from paying off debt, push the country into poverty and unemployment, and eliminate debt for future reconstruction.
Reflecting US efforts, Yellen’s first stop in Zambia was to visit Mylan Laboratories, a subsidiary of Viatris’ American pharmaceutical company. The lab was opened in 2010 with an investment of $10 million and is developing drugs to treat malaria and HIV in the country and the region.
He also set up the Zambia National Public Health Institute, which is known as a model of this type.
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