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China grants US$5.3 billion credit line to Ecuador
[BOGOTA] China has granted a US$5.3 billion credit line to Ecuador as the oil-reliant Andean nation reorganizes its finances after a crash in crude prices slashed export earnings, Ecuador's official newspaper reported on Tuesday.
Ecuadorean Finance Minister Fausto Herrera said the government would tap US$1.5 billion this year of the 30-year credit, which carries a 2 per cent annual interest rate, El Ciudadano reported.
China's state-controlled and trade-focused Eximbank, which offered the new loan, has been one of Ecuador's top financiers, investing heavily in the oil and hydroelectricity sectors. World oil prices have fallen about 55 per cent over the past six months.
The loan, granted during an official visit to China by Ecuador's President Rafael Correa, comes as OPEC's smallest member faces challenges from a plunge in global oil prices which on Monday forced the government to cut its 2015 budget by 4 per cent.
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, whose country now boasts the world's largest oil reserves, is also making an official visit to China and several unspecified OPEC countries in a trip that comes as Venezuelan bond prices plummet.
Ecuador will spend the Chinese loan on social projects, transport and infrastructure, El Ciudadano said.
The Finance Ministry in Quito confirmed it held a press conference in Peking but declined to comment on the details.