Nigeria did not mortgage property for Chinese loans – Amaechi

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Minister Of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi

…As China hikes tariffs on most U.S. goods in $60 billion target list***

The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi indicated on Monday that the Nigerian government has not mortgaged any property, to secure infrastructural loans from China.

Amaechi made the clarification at the 6th Annual East African Transport Infrastructure conference held in Nairobi, Kenya, against the backdrop of innuendo that some African countries who took the Chinese loans were already at the risk of forfeiting their infrastructures. 

Amaechi insisted that Nigeria did not offer China any such comfort, because the country has the ability to repay the loans.

There were reports that countries such as Sri Lanka, Somalia, Kenya, Sudan, among others were already facing pressure of forfeiting their infrastructure to China over unpaid debts.

“I don’t know the arrangement these countries made with China-Exim bank, I do not think we will have any problems with repaying our loans. The countries that they are talking about are Kenya, Somalia and Sudan.

“These are some of the countries that have not been able to repay their loans I think. So what China is doing is that, it is taking over to manage and get its money, but it’s not so in Nigeria.

Amaechi said debt default by some countries is affecting Nigeria’s plan to borrow more from China.

“We are talking with them, to say that by June, we should be able to say this is our repayment plan. It also depends on what agreement plan you have with them. Our agreement does not include the fact that they will come and take over our seaports or railways or airports.

“We believe that we can pay back using our own money. That shouldn’t be any problem. Our focus should be to run this infrastructure efficiently so we can pay back and there is no plan for them to manage any of it.” he stated.

According to him, China is the only country that can give out loan for infrastructure. He claimed developed countries also borrow from China.

“If you don’t go to China, who will give you money? America is going to China even Russia. What is wrong if Nigeria goes to China?
I think we should not be afraid of China.

“Nobody runs railway with passenger fares. You can never get one Naira out of it. Nigerians think railway is just to carry passengers but the problem is that the goods that should be on the rail are the ones on the road and they are destroying the roads.

“Once we conclude the rail projects and those goods are transferred to the rail, that is when we will start making money to pay our debts.

“Currently our trains are carrying passengers. People are celebrating Lagos-Ibadan because they are looking at it that “oh, I’ll just jump into the train and one hour after, I’m already in Ibadan”.

“That’s not the overall aim. The reason the federal government said we must get to the seaport is to decongest the Apapa seaport.

That’s where the money lies,” he noted.

In the meantime, China on Monday said it would adjust tariffs on a revised target list of 60 billion dollars worth of U.S. imports, the finance ministry said in a statement.

Also with additional rates of 20 per cent to 25 per cent in retaliation for a U.S. tariff hike on 200 billion dollars worth of Chinese goods.

A total of 5,140 products will be subject to various tariff rates starting June 1, the ministry said.

An additional tariff of 25 per cent will be levied against 2,493 goods including liquefied natural gas, the ministry said, and an additional tariff of 20 per cent will be imposed on 1,078 products.

Beijing previously set additional rates of 5 per cent and 10 per cent on 5,207 U.S. products worth 60 billion dollars in September, and warned at the time that it would counter any higher tariffs imposed by Washington on Chinese products.

“China’s adjustment on additional tariffs is a response to U.S. unilateralism and protectionism,” the ministry said.

“China hopes the U.S. will get back to the right track of bilateral trade and economic consultations and meet with China halfway.”

The U.S. on Friday activated a new 25 per cent duty on more than 5,700 categories of products from China, even as top Chinese and U.S. negotiators resumed trade talks in Washington.

U.S. President Donald Trump had ordered the new tariffs, saying China “broke the deal” by reneging on earlier commitments made during months of negotiations. China has denied the allegations.