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Public debt in low-income countries: current state, restructuring challenges and lessons from the past

In the face of high and rising debt vulnerabilities in low-income countries (LICs), the G20 Common Framework for Debt Treatments provides an important tool to facilitate debt restructurings, but its implementation has so far been hampered by delays and difficulties. Drawing also from a comparison with past debt relief initiatives (HIPC and MDRI), this paper analyses the main challenges for successful debt restructurings in the current environment characterized by a greater complexity of debt structures in terms of instruments and creditors. The presence of a dominant bilateral lender and the increased role of private creditors make it hard to replicate the solutions applied in the past to reduce LICs’ debt. The current challenges also reflect a distributional conflict between advanced economies and China as to the allocation of the losses deriving from debt relief, which also involves a different approach regarding the role to be played by Multilateral Development Banks in support of the countries in need of debt restructurings.  […]