LUANDA/JOHANNESBURG - Angola will pay up to $200 million less each month to service its loans with China Development Bank (CDB), its biggest Chinese creditor, a minister said at the conclusion of a visit to China.

"Our installments... will be lower, allowing us to release an average of $150-200 million per month," Jose de Lima Massano, Minister of State for Economic Coordination, told reporters at the end of a trip to China with Angola's President Joao Lourenco.

The oil producing country owes Chinese creditors about $17 billion, Lourenco said during the trip, nearly 40% of its external debt. Its debt payments shot up last year after a debt service suspension agreement with Chinese lenders ended, contributing to its currency weakening and inflation rising.

The "repayment mechanics" of the loans to CDB will be changed, but not the timetable, Massano said, in comments broadcast by Angolan media.

Angola expects to repay CDB $3.1 billion in loan amortisations in 2024, according to the government's annual debt plan. In total, it forecasts payments of $10.1 billion to external creditors this year.

The southern African country has $2.5 billion in escrow accounts to repay Chinese creditors, credit ratings agency S&P Global Ratings said last month. In 2022, S&P estimated that 80% of debt to China was in oil-backed loans.

"Some of the (Chinese-funded) projects are at a stage where a longer period is needed for repayments," Massano said. "These periods have been extended, which means that we can continue to carry out the projects with the security of having the funds available to pay the contractors."

He added that Angola had not defaulted on any Chinese loans, promoting trust between the two sides.

(Reporting by Miguel Gomes and Rachel Savage; editing by Christina Fincher)