Joint BIS-IMF-OECD-World Bank statistics on external debt

15 March 1999

Press release

The first of a new series of quarterly releases of statistics on external debt for 176 developing and transition countries was jointly published today by the BIS, the IMF, the OECD and the World Bank. This is in response to requests for dissemination of more timely external debt indicators. The statistics are available at:

and are also accessible through each agency's website. The aim of this initiative is to facilitate access to a single set of data which brings together information currently compiled and published separately by the contributing institutions on components of countries' external debt. The publication also includes data on international reserves.

This is a project of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Finance Statistics, which coordinates work on finance statistics. It is chaired by the IMF and comprises, in addition to the four above mentioned organisations, the United Nations, the European Central Bank, and Eurostat.

The statistics are mostly from creditor and market sources, but also include data provided by debtor countries. Particular emphasis is placed on debt due within a year. Also, to help analysts, flow data (where available) are provided in addition to stock data. There remain differences between the series in their coverage, frequency and the time lag before publication, and the data do not yet provide a completely comprehensive and consistent measure of total external debt in each country. Nevertheless, they bring together for the first time the best international comparative data currently available on external debt.

The coverage, definitions and limitations are explained in a methodological note on the website. Currently, the figures cover essentially all countries and territories on the list of aid recipients of the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD, including practically all non-OECD countries, as well as the Czech Republic, Hungary, Korea, Mexico, Poland and Turkey. Data for offshore financial centres are separately distinguished.

This publication is part of an evolutionary process. The contributing institutions are currently working on improving the comprehensiveness, quality and timeliness of the statistics.