The experience of the 2007 global financial crisis can tell us a few things about how low-income countries could be affected by the coronavirus pandemic in the near term, even as we recognize that the myriad economic problems created by the pandemic are almost certainly greater in number and scale than the problems in 2007.
CGD Policy Blogs
HIPC with Chinese Characteristics: Why Yesterday’s Debt Relief Is the Wrong Point of Reference for Today’s Crises
Concerns about rising debt risks in developing economies were front and center at the annual meetings. HIPC is a useful reference point as we talk about a new round of debt crises. But thanks to the rise of China as a lender, the creditor community today looks much different from the HIPC creditor community—with implications for any resolution to a debt crisis.
When the world’s finance ministers and central bank governors assemble in Washington later this month. they would do well to focus on another looming debt crisis that could hit some of the poorest countries in the world, many of whom are also struggling with problems of conflict and fragility and none of which has the institutional capacity to cope with a major debt crisis without lasting damage to their already-challenged development prospects.
International actors have criticized decisions by the Trump administration to reject the Paris Climate Accord, abandon the Trans Pacific Partnership, and withdraw from a United Nations declaration intended to protect the rights of migrants. However, there is one international body, the Paris Club, whose members may be rooting for the United States to leave. That’s because, in the absence of congressional action, continued US membership in the Paris Club could impair the economic prospects of some of the poorest countries in the world.
Debt relief is high on the Sudanese government’s agenda. This week’s budget proposals coming out of the White House indicate that Sudan may finally get its wish—but there’s something weird about where the money comes from. Here I offer an alternative.
With last week’s decision by the Trump Administration to extend the review period for permanent removal of long-standing sanctions on Sudan, the debate over the nature of future US engagement with Sudan will continue. As this month’s report of the Atlantic Council’s Sudan Task Force points out, US support for debt relief will be high on the Sudanese government’s agenda; such relief would unlock international financing that supports economic development and poverty reduction. What the report does not mention is that such relief would likely require significant new funds being appropriated by Congress.
The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank's (AIIB) second loan to Tajikistan in the space of a year raises questions about lending on “hard terms” to poor countries. In its eagerness to meet the investment needs of Asian countries, is the AIIB going to get burned by lending at non-concessional rates to poor countries? Or, if a country becomes unable to pay all its bills, will it treat the AIIB as a preferred creditor and prioritize debt service payments over the needs of the poor?
As indicated in the Trump administration’s skinny budget released in March, the FY18 budget request incorporates the idea of transitioning the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program from grants to loans.
I make five recommendations as Somalia heads down the arrears clearance/debt relief path, using Liberia’s experience as a reference point.
Cambodia’s Prime Minister and former Khmer Rouge commander Hun Sen has called on the Trump administration to cancel Cambodia’s debt to the US Government incurred by the Lon Nol regime in the 1970s. Because the loans, which were used to pay for food purchased from the United States, have not been serviced, the total amount owed is estimated to now be more than US$500 million. While the Trump administration may not immediately embrace Cambodia’s request, it is worth both sides considering the possibility of a deal.