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Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

Adobe Stock image of a pile of coins with a rising bar graph overlaid

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.

Cash and coins on a blank surface

Financing Options for Low-Income Countries

The global narrative on development finance centers on enabling all countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. This cascades into a set of questions about how much financing is needed, how it should be mobilized, and how it will be used. While the SDGs motivate action and have a reasonable prospect of being met in middle-income developing countries, achieving the SDGs in low-income countries (LICs), which have further to travel and more binding resource and institutional constraints, will be harder. The challenge will be most acute in Africa, where pockets of absolute poverty are increasingly concentrated and environmental degradation and conflict add to state fragility.  

The 'Declaration of Independence' by John Trumbull (1819)

Thomas Jefferson, the Original Debt Trap Diplomat

CGD research has become Exhibit A virtually every time the charge of “debt trap diplomacy” has been leveled against China in the media this past year. Yet, our research shows that many of China’s borrowers are managing their debts just fine and seem unlikely to fall into any traps.

A column chart of external government debt for Sub-Saharan Africa by official, private, and Chinese creditors

2018 FOCAC: Africa in the New Reality of Reduced Chinese Lending

The 2018 FOCAC Summit will open tomorrow in Beijing. There is much speculation about the size of the investment package China will unveil at the summit. It appears, however, that we are in a new phase of Chinese financing. A combination of domestic and international pressures will likely alter China’s extensive lending program—African states that have relied on this lifeline must adjust to the new reality.

Map of countries involved in China's Belt and Road Initiative coded by their risk of debt distress

Will China's Belt and Road Initiative Push Vulnerable Countries into a Debt Crisis?

In a new CGD paper, we assess the likelihood of debt problems in the 68 countries we identify as potential BRI borrowers. The big takeaway: BRI is unlikely to cause a systemic debt problem, yet the initiative will likely run into instances of debt problems among select participating countries—requiring better standards and improved debt practices from China.

The Potential Belt and Road Debt Bubble: Are We Asking the Right Questions?

During the recent IMF and World Bank meetings, all eyes were on China. As the US administration contemplates scaling back its global economic engagement, China is doing the exact opposite. But there is increasing attention being paid to risks associated with Chinese financing on two fronts.