Taiwan’s state-owned Export-Import Bank of the Republic of China (中國輸出入銀行) is to reduce a more than 20-year-old debt owed by Niger of US$183 million to US$20 million under an agreement announced by a senior government official on Friday.
Faced with mounting financial difficulties, the west African nation — which established diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1992 — took out two loans with the bank for a total of US$60 million before breaking off relations again in 1996 and formally recognizing Beijing.
After the government failed to begin payments on the debt, the bank pursued the case in a US court and won a decision in 1998 that ordered Niger to pay US$76 million.
“The Nigerien state never responded to any order to pay. The interest rate increased and in 2015 the state of Niger found itself with a bill of US$183 million,” Gandou Zakara, the Nigerien government’s secretary-general, said.
Under the deal, Niger immediately paid US$5 million. The remaining US$15 million is to be paid over a period of 20 years at an interest rate of 1.75 percent.
“The signature of this agreement puts an end to the litigation between the Republic of Niger and Taiwan,” Zakara said.
Niger is among a number of African nations that have in the past played upon and benefited from both Taiwan and China’s desire to win diplomatic allies on the continent.
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