Angola nurtures ‘new alliances’ but preserves ties with China

President João Lourenço

Angola, under the leadership of President João Lourenço, has been forging “new alliances,” notably with Japan, but continues to prioritize ties with China and the Portuguese-speaking countries, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) said.

The EIU recalls in its latest report on Angola that Lourenço, in an effort to diversify economic and diplomatic relations in Europe, visited France and Belgium in 2018 before visiting Portugal later that year.

“New alliances are being nurtured, although relations with global powers such as the U.S. and China will also have high priority,” the EIU said.

The report recalls that after a state visit to China by Lourenço in 2018, the Chinese authorities announced a new credit line of USD2 billion, “which will be used mainly to finance infrastructure projects.”

“Angola will continue to prioritise relations with Portuguese-
speaking countries, including Brazil, as well as with the former colonial power, Portugal, “a country with which longstanding economic, political and cultural ties” have been hampered by a number of Portuguese legal investigations of senior Angolan officials, a situation that should be overcome.

Relations with Japan are also growing, benefiting from a recently signed USD600 million contract for the recovery of the port of Namibe by a consortium of Japanese companies.

The contract is also significant for Japan as it intends to expand its presence in Africa, despite being overshadowed by its Asian rivals China and South Korea and is preparing to hold the seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development in August, the EIU said.

“Japan has historically been cautious about investing in Angola because of the country’s operating environment, and this latest investment is a welcome omen for the government’s reform agenda,” it said.

Angola is under the assistance of the International Monetary Fund, which, according to Africa Monitor, already translates into a “more favorable environment in which Angola is now negotiating international credits.”

Africa Monitor reported that in January, in what are considered “very favorable” conditions, Angola negotiated at least two loans with British banks, for which the interest rate applied, Libor +1.5 percent (in pounds sterling/euro/yen) is lower than that of loans negotiated with China (an average of 3.4 percent).

“Since the beginning of his term, João Lourenço has made several trips abroad with the purpose of attracting private investment, securing loans and, in the specific case of China, to present the intention of a debt renegotiation,” the EIU said.

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