The US and China verbally clashed over the debt issue in Africa after the former criticized China for being a “barrier” to debt reform in Africa.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen made the comment this week in Zambia after which Chinese officials in the southern African country gave a sharp response.
China’s Response to US
After Yellen’s attack on China, the Chinese Embassy in the African country responded to her comments. The website read, “the biggest contribution that the US can make to the debt issues outside the country is to act on responsible monetary policies, cope with its own debt problem, and stop sabotaging other sovereign countries’ active efforts to solve their debt issues.”
The US has about $31 trillion in national debt, up from $5.6 trillion in 2000, in part because of rising costs for an aging population, expenditures for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, COVID-19 initiatives, and tax cuts that reduced revenue.
The American Federal Reserve’s rate rises, which are intended to curb domestic inflation, and the strengthening currency have increased the expense of debt payment for African nations, the African Development Bank reported last week.
Zambia backtracked on its debt in 2020 and made almost no efforts to restructure it with Chinese and private creditors, due to which people have been pushed further down in poverty.
To address the purpose of reforming debt in Africa, Yellen and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva had arrived on separate occasions.
In 2022, the world’s poorest nations will have to pay $35 billion in debt service to public and private creditors, more than 40% of which would be owed to China, according to the World Bank.
Janet Yellen calls for action on food security
The United States Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Tuesday demanded an urgent action to boost long-term food security in Africa and the world over, while changing agricultural practices and technology according to the climatic changes.
Yellen is on a 10-day African visit to Africa and her comments came while she was in Zambia. Her statement came after her conversation with a woman beekeeper and other farmers whose works were backed by a US-backed project in a rural village of the southern African country. As a part of the bigger Green Climate Fund, the project aids small-scale farmers in 155 Zambian villages to produce more food and tackle the impacts of climate change.
Yellen said, “This project shows how our countries can partner to address two of the most critical issues facing Zambia and the world: food security and climate adaptation.” She is the first US government official to visit Zambia in a decade.
The former chair of the Federal Reserve also spoke with members of the Twalumbu Savings Group, which assists its members in pooling funds to purchase cattle, equipment, seeds, and feed, increasing their food output and income.
Member Faustina Piri praised the US official’s visit to the far-flung area and called it a big achievement, while observing that the savings club was bringing “a big difference” in making the lives of all those involved better.
Yell’s Zambia visit marked the sixth day of her three-country tour of Africa. Her Africa tour is the maiden among many planned visits of 2023 by US President Joe Biden and main members of his Cabinet as part of a joint push to enlarge ties with African countries.
The drastic changes in climate and increased pressures on supplies of food worldwide have been due to Russia waging war in Ukraine. She said this while visiting a farmstead which was funded by the Green Climate Fund-supported program. It has been built with a herd of goats and bigger grain stores.
Yellen also said in her statement that worldwide 345 million in 80 countries were facing acute food shortages since Russia invaded Ukraine. In Zambia the number is 2 million.
At the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit, the US and African Union jointly agreed to a food security initiative last month.