24 Aug 2018

Cook Islands disagrees with idea to ask China to forgive debt

2:28 pm on 24 August 2018
Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown

Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown Photo: Phillipa Webb / Cook Islands News

The Cook Islands finance minister says his country does not agree with Tonga's call for China to forgive all Pacific debt.

Tonga's Prime Minister Akilisi Pohiva has said Pacific countries were holding talks which could lead to a coordinated request for Beijing to forgive debts.

However, the Cooks minister, Mark Brown, said while he was sympathetic towards Tonga's plight, there have been no regional discussions in the lead-up to next months Pacific Islands Forum summit.

Tonga is heavily saddled with Chinese debt, and Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva has called for Chinese loans to be converted to grants, to no avail.

Mr Brown told the Cook Islands News that his sentiments were similar to those of Samoa's prime minister, who also rejected Tonga's idea.

Mr Brown suggested it would be in Tonga's interest to try and restructure its debt position with help from the World Bank or the Asian Development Bank.