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Cablegate: Paris Club - October 2005 Tour D'horizon

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A



1. (SBU) At the October 2005 Paris Club meeting, creditors
reached agreement with Nigeria on a comprehensive treatment to
eliminate Nigeria's approximate $30 billion debt in exchange for
cash payments totaling $12.6 billion ($12.4 billion in the deal
itself, and $200 million upfront to meet a precondition for the
deal). Creditors also agreed to reschedule $137 million of the
Dominican Republic's debt falling due in 2005. Although the
negotiations with Nigeria were protracted, the result was a deal
structured largely along the lines agreed to in principle by
Paris Club creditors in June. Nigeria will make three payments
totaling $8 billion, covering arrears and other senior debt. In
return, creditors will grant 67 percent "Naples terms" debt
reduction. Nigeria will then buy back the balance of the debt at
a market-related price, computed so that overall payments sum to
$12.4 billion. The final phase of the deal is predicated on
completion of the first review of Nigeria's Policy Support
Instrument (PSI) with the IMF, anticipated for March 2006. As a
precondition to the deal, Nigeria must pay $200 million in
additional 2005 debt service, fulfilling a previous commitment to
the Paris Club. The Dominican Republic requested rescheduling of
both 2005 and 2006 maturities. Creditors agreed to reschedule
debt falling due in 2005, but turned down the DR's request for a
rescheduling of 2006 maturities, citing a buildup in reserves and
an improvement in economic and financial conditions. Creditors
agreed to reassess the country's financing needs in December
2005, in the context of the third review of the IMF Standby
Arrangement (SBA). Other countries on the agenda included
Argentina, Afghanistan, Cameroon, Iraq, Moldova, Russia, and
Serbia Montenegro. Jordan was discussed at a separate G-7 debt
experts meeting. END SUMMARY.

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2. (SBU) The Nigerians came to the negotiations requesting
treatment considerably more generous than had been agreed in
principle by the G-7 and other Paris Club creditors in June 2005.
The final deal is somewhat more generous than was previously
agreed - reducing the prorated amount of Nigeria's regular 2005
payment by about $200 million (from $445 million), and providing
for payments in three stages (with less in the first stage)
rather than two. The $12.4 billion total payment agreed to in
June held, however, despite a request by Finance Minister Ngozi
to reduce it by $500 million. A new element in the deal is that
Nigeria's payments will be made into an escrow account at the
Bank for International Settlements (BIS) and will be released to
creditors only after bilateral agreements have been signed and

3. (U) The main elements of the deal are:

-- Prior Action: Nigeria pays $200 million in additional 2005
debt service, fulfilling a previous commitment to the Paris Club.
(Note: Nigeria met the other prior action when it agreed upon a
non-lending program with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on
October 17, under the IMF's new PSI.)
-- Phase One (October 31): Nigeria pays $6.4 billion, to be
allocated first to outstanding "leveling-up" debt (i.e.,
'preferred' or 'senior' debt from Nigeria's 2000 deal with the
Paris Club) and then to arrears (i.e., debt that is past due).
Creditors provide an initial phase of debt reduction equal to 33
percent of "eligible debt" (defined as outstanding debt excluding
arrears, leveling-up debt, and post-cutoff date debt (i.e., debt
from after October 1, 1985)).
-- Phase Two (December 12): Nigeria pays the balance of arrears
($1.4 billion).
-- Phase Three (20 business days after first IMF review of PSI
(expected March 2006)): Nigeria pays outstanding post-cutoff
date debt ($0.3 billion) in full. Creditors provide a second
(and final) phase of debt reduction equal to 34 percent of
eligible debt. Nigeria then buys back the balance of the debt at
a market-related price (for which it makes a payment of $4.4
billion) that brings total payments to $12.6 billion.

4. (U) Assuming all three phases of the deal are implemented,
Nigeria's entire stock of debt to the Paris Club ($30.1 billion,
of which $975 million owed to the US) will be eliminated.
Payments to the US, including the US share of the 2005 debt
service payment, amount to $356 million. The USDEL was able to
sign the agreement after confirming that the projected payments
from Nigeria would be sufficient to cover the budget cost of the
envisaged debt reduction. (Note: under the 1991 Credit Reform
Act, the value of debt (its "budget cost") held by the US is
calculated according to a variety of debtor country-specific
factors. The greater the likelihood of repayment, the higher the
budget cost of any debt forgiveness).

Dominican Republic
5. (U) Creditors (US, Spain, France, Germany and Japan) provided
a rescheduling of $137 million in pre-cutoff (i.e., debt from
before June 30, 1984) maturities falling due in 2005. Debts were
rescheduled over 12 years, with a 5-year principal grace period
(i.e., "Classic" terms). The agreement (called the "Agreed
Minute" by the Paris Club) includes a goodwill clause stating
that creditors will review the external financing needs of the
Dominican Republic in December 2005, in the context of the third
review of the SBA, "with a view to providing additional relief in
2006, if needed, to support the program." The Agreed Minute also
notes that as regards the DR's debts to the private sector, in
light of the successful bond restructuring in July 2005 and the
rescheduling agreement signed with commercial banks on 17 October
2005 (if implemented--see paragraph 6), the Dominican Republic
has met the comparability of treatment requirement (i.e., equal
treatment by all creditors) and is therefore not required to seek
further debt relief from its private sector creditors.

6. (SBU) The Dominican Republic argued strenuously for a
rescheduling of both 2005 and 2006 maturities, pointing to
vulnerabilities in the economy and a projected financing gap in
2006, as identified by the IMF. Short of a combined 2005-2006
rescheduling, the DR tried to include a clause in the agreement
whereby a 2006 rescheduling would be triggered automatically upon
validation of a financing need by the IMF at the time of the
third review of the SBA. The DR warned that failure to secure a
2006 rescheduling - or some sort of guarantee that a 2006
rescheduling was forthcoming - would jeopardize a recently
concluded MOU with commercial bank creditors to reschedule $198
million in debt falling due in 2005-2006. (The MOU lists, among
other conditions, that the DR must reach an agreement with the
Paris Club in 2005 providing support for the duration of the IMF
program.) More broadly, the DR warned that the Paris Club's
refusal to provide an immediate 2005-2006 rescheduling would
cause fear in the financial sector that any future Paris Club
debt relief would reopen the comparability of treatment issue and
lead to future commercial debt restructurings.

7. (SBU) The USDEL expressed serious doubts about the need for
debt relief in 2006 given the improvement in the economy, the
increase in reserves, and other possible sources of financing
(e.g., a $50 million World Bank disbursement currently held up
due to the DR's failure to meet conditionality). Moreover, the
USDEL argued that the Paris Club was not in the business of
providing precautionary rescheduling to guard against potential
financing difficulties on the horizon. The USDEL opposed
attempts by the DR to craft language in the goodwill clause
committing creditors to provide debt relief in 2006 should the
IMF identify a financing gap at the next SBA review. (Although
the IMF regularly requests financing assurances from the Paris
Club, an affirmative response from creditors is not guaranteed.)
France, Japan, and Germany joined the USDEL in opposing a 2006
rescheduling, but appeared indifferent to the wording of the
goodwill clause. Spain, on the other hand, actively supported
the DR's positions throughout the negotiations.

8. (SBU) The IMF said a low-access (i.e., 10 percent of its
quota) Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) could be in
place by April 2006. Regarding an eventual treatment of
Afghanistan's debt in the Paris Club, the Secretariat outlined
two possible ways forward. If Afghanistan qualifies for
treatment as a Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC), it would be
entitled to an initial debt treatment on Naples terms (i.e., 67
percent reduction). If, on the other hand, Afghanistan
approached the Paris Club as a non-HIPC, under the Evian
approach, creditors would provide debt relief on the basis of a
Debt Sustainability Analysis (DSA) by the IMF. In either
scenario, creditors could choose to provide, on a voluntary
basis, additional relief beyond what was called for in the Paris
Club agreement.

9. (SBU) Russia said that, for domestic considerations, it
wished to treat Afghanistan's debt in a multilateral framework
(i.e., at the Paris Club). Russia argued, furthermore, that a
Paris Club deal would be beneficial to Afghanistan insofar as it
helped to leverage comparable debt relief from non-Paris Club
creditors. Russia reported claims totaling $10.2 billion, of
which $9.8 billion is in arrears. Germany said it had already
canceled Afghanistan's Official Development Assistance (ODA)
debt, but needed a legal basis (that is, dealing with it at the
Paris Club) to cancel the remaining 36 million Euros in non-ODA
debt. If Afghanistan becomes a HIPC, Germany is prepared to
cancel 100 percent of its remaining claims. If Afghanistan is
treated as a non-HIPC, Germany will not have the legal authority
to cancel 100 percent. For its part, the US suggested that the
three concerned creditors consider reaching a multilateral
agreement outside of the Paris Club, given that the three were
Afghanistan's only Paris Club creditors.
10. (SBU) During a subsequent side discussion, the head of the
Russian delegation reiterated that Russia had no flexibility to
deal with Afghanistan outside the Club, adding that nothing less
than a "standard Paris Club agreement" would allow Russia to
sidestep its legislature, the Duma. He stressed that Russia had
never reached an agreement in principle with Afghanistan on the
so-called zero option (whereby nearly all of its debt to Russia
would be forgiven, with grants provided to offset small debt
service payments), and that press releases suggesting otherwise
were erroneous. He also said only 50 percent of its debt with
Afghanistan has been reconciled, with no progress made for about
a year. If Afghanistan approaches the Paris Club as a HIPC, he
said Russia would not be in a position to cancel 100 percent of
its debt at completion point unless its broader HIPC policy has
changed by that time. If Afghanistan approaches the Paris Club
as a non-HIPC, Russia might have more flexibility under the Evian

11. (SBU) At Argentina's request, the Secretariat met with
Finance Minister Nielsen during the IMF/World Bank meetings in
Washington. Nielsen claimed that certain Paris Club creditors -
namely Germany and Austria - were eager to extend new financing
to Argentina. (Both Germany and Austria denied this claim and
said that a Paris Club deal was necessary before any new
financing could be considered.) Nielsen expressed interest in
getting a Paris Club deal without an IMF program. In a
subsequent letter to the Club, Nielsen explained that Argentina
was not in a position to pay its arrears. The majority of
creditors voiced support for sending a written response to the
authorities asking them to pay arrears and reiterating that an
IMF program was a requirement for any Paris Club deal. Italy,
however, continued to block such a letter, stating that it has
not yet decided on an appropriate position. The Secretariat will
draft a letter for discussion at the November Paris Club session.

12. (SBU) A new PRGF is scheduled to be presented to the IMF
Board on October 24 (note: the IMF approved Cameroon's PRGF on
October 24). Creditors agreed to resume their provision of HIPC
interim relief to Cameroon by extending the consolidation period
of the previous agreement once the PRGF is approved.

13. (SBU) The IMF said Iraq had satisfied the preconditions for
initiating SBA negotiations. A mission is currently in the
field, and staff believe that a program could be presented to the
Executive Board sometime in December. (In a side discussion, the
IMF said staff is considering a precautionary SBA.) The
Secretariat reported on Iraq's progress in concluding bilateral

agreements with both its Paris Club and non-Paris Club official
creditors. Regarding Iraq's offer to its commercial creditors,
the Secretariat said the preliminary results were "very
encouraging." The Secretariat noted that it had received several
letters from the LCCG and the KCCC criticizing the unilateral
nature of Iraq's commercial offer. The Secretariat's only
comment was that, in its view, Iraq's commercial offer was
strictly comparable. There was no further discussion.

14. (SBU) The G-7 remains divided over whether to increase
Jordan's non-ODA debt swap limit to 50 percent from its current
30 percent ceiling, with the US, UK, France, and Italy continuing
to support Jordan's request while Canada, Japan, and Germany
continue to oppose.

15. (SBU) The IMF said negotiations on a new PRGF could begin in
December. The Secretariat reported that Moldova has made some
progress in restructuring its external debt, but arrears to the
Paris Club continue to accumulate. It remains to be seen whether
Moldova will approach the Club.

16. (SBU) Russia raised a technical issue with certain creditors
regarding the conclusion of bilateral agreements implementing
Russia's prepayment operations carried out in July and August
2005. The US was not one of the creditors concerned.

Serbia and Montenegro
17. (SBU) The IMF said it was unclear whether the final review
of the current program will be completed before the program
expires at the end of 2005. The final tranche (15 percent) of
Paris Club debt reduction is contingent on completion of the
final review.

Methodological discussion: Potential HIPC Countries
--------------------------------------------- -------
18. (SBU) The IMF asked the Paris Club to conduct data calls for
Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Eritrea, and Haiti in order to help
the Fund determine whether these countries qualify for HIPC.

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