March 11, 2020 / 3:59 PM / in 18 days

Mnuchin says IMF and World Bank funds won't repay debts to China

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Treasury is working with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to gain full transparency of countries’ debts from China’s Belt and Road infrastructure initiative and ensure that funds from the institutions are not used to repay China, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Wednesday.

“We think this is critically important,” Mnuchin told a hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee. “We’re not ever going to be using money from these international organizations to pay back China.”

Some countries saddled by debt from Belt and Road Projects, such as Pakistan, have turned to the IMF for assistance. Pakistan entered a $6 billion loan program with the Fund in July 2019.

At a regular news conference in Beijing on Thursday, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang responded to questioning about Mnuchin’s comments by saying international financial institutions were not “political tools” and had assessed the Belt and Road initiative positively.

Reporting by David Lawder; Additional reporting by Gabriel Crossley in Beijing; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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