Press Release: IMF and World Bank Expand Databases on External Debt Statistics

February 29, 2008

Press Release No. 08/37

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank have released new, enhanced versions of two databases that offer access to external debt statistics: the Quarterly External Debt Statistics database (QEDS) and the Joint External Debt Hub (JEDH). The JEDH is a joint undertaking of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), IMF, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and World Bank. This represents a further step by the institutions involved to facilitate and encourage worldwide dissemination of external debt data by as many countries as possible.

1. The extension of the Quarterly External Debt Statistics database

The QEDS database, initially launched in November 2004, brings together external debt statistics that are normally published individually by countries that subscribe to the IMF's Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS).

To further enhance the availability of external debt data, the World Bank and the IMF invited a group of Low Income Countries that participate in the IMF's General Data Dissemination System (GDDS) to report a simplified quarterly set of data focusing on the external debt of the public sector. Fourteen countries have accepted the invitation, and nine of them have already started providing the requested data. The intention is to expand the number of reporting countries over time. To reflect the differences in the structure of the reporting, the QEDS website displays two separate headings: "SDDS/QEDS", and "GDDS/QEDS."

"The extension of the QEDS database to GDDS participants is a most welcome initiative. It will provide easy access to timely external debt data that are otherwise difficult to obtain and complements other data initiatives at the IMF and the World Bank," said Shaida Badiee, Director of the World Bank's Development data Group. "In the wake of the Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative and of the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative, policymakers and analysts will, no doubt, find this development very valuable. I encourage more countries to join this initiative."

"The initial database and now its extension are concrete outcomes of the Fund's standards initiatives aimed at promoting the compilation and dissemination of macro-economic data in accordance with internationally agreed methodologies. This work demonstrates the high level of cooperation between the staff of the IMF and World Bank in developing external debt statistics," said Robert Edwards, Director of the IMF's Statistics Department.

2. The expanded Joint External Debt Hub

The International Union of Credit and Investment Insurers, known as the Berne Union, now provides quarterly data on insured export credit exposures collected from its members, for dissemination on the JEDH, as supplementary information to other data collected from creditor or market sources. This represents an important additional perspective on the external liabilities of the debtor countries, and a significant improvement of the JEDH as a whole.

Launched in March 2006 by the BIS, the IMF, the OECD and the World Bank, the JEDH provides a one-stop source of comprehensive external debt statistics compiled from national and creditor/market sources. It replaced the Joint BIS-IMF-OECD-World Bank External Debt tables and expanded the available range of information.

After the OECD discontinued collecting data on official and officially-supported trade credits, the Task Force on Finance Statistics (TFFS) 1 asked the BIS to explore the possibility of using Berne Union data as an alternative. The BIS worked extensively with the Berne Union and with the other agencies, first to examine the data available, then to agree on a reporting framework. As a result, the Berne Union now provides to the BIS quarterly data collected from its members for dissemination on the JEDH.

"We are very thankful to the Secretariat of the Berne Union for all their efforts in putting these data together and to all the members for accepting to share their data with the global community," said Paul Van den Bergh, Head of Information, Statistics and Administration at the BIS. "The regular disclosure of insured trade credits exposures will provide users with important additional information regarding the global liabilities of the debtor countries."

Background on the extension of the QEDS database

The QEDS database extension focuses on the dissemination of public and publicly-guaranteed external debt position data broken down by maturity as the essential item for participation in the QEDS, but encourages the dissemination of other data, including the external debt-service payment schedule, creditor sector information, and the external debt position data broken down by instrument.

Four tables were developed for collecting quarterly time series information on external debt for GDDS countries.

Provision of data for Table 1—the table based on the GDDS external debt data category—is essential for participation in the QEDS. Data for the memorandum item in Table 1 (nonguaranteed private sector external debt) are not required for participation, although—if available—data are encouraged to be disseminated at least once yearly.

Participants are welcome to provide: the encouraged GDDS table on debt-service payment schedule for public and publicly-guaranteed external debt broken down by principal and interest (Table 2), public and publicly-guaranteed external debt position presented by nonresident creditor sectors (Table 3), and external debt position data presented by instrument (Table 4).

Some country-specific notes are available directly on the website; a link is also provided to the GDDS metadata maintained by the IMF for individual countries. These metadata provide users with information about the nature of the data disseminated, including the compilation and dissemination practices followed.

The extension of the QEDS database is the result of collaborative efforts by the World Bank and IMF over the past year, and of the participating countries. The project had been endorsed by the TFFS.

Background on the Berne Union data for the JEDH

Berne Union (BU) data is reported by each BU member organisation after the end of each quarter, based on common definitions established by member experts and agreed by all members. The data is collected, validated, and uploaded onto the BU database by the BU secretariat in London.

These data primarily cover Berne Union's members insurance of export credits provided cross-border. A full set of metadata is available on the JEDH. In summary, the following is to be noted:

• Data refer to Berne Union members' direct insurance or lending.

• Total data include medium/long-term exposures (i.e. with a maturity >12 months) and short-term exposures.

• In credit insurance, "Commitments" are insurance given to cover actual loans. Thus, a Commitment means that a loan agreement (as well as the underlying project or export transaction agreement) has been signed, the insurance for this loan is in place, and the insurance premium has been paid or invoiced. In some cases, a part of a loan may not yet have been disbursed—however the non-disbursed amount typically represents only a minor share of the total amount reported as Commitment.

• Most Berne Union members include both principal amounts and contract loan interest amounts in all figures reported, while some members only include principal amounts.

• All amounts exclude uninsured percentages (typically up to 5-10%).

Additional enhancements of the Joint External Debt Hub

• The creditor/market tables now also display "Total liabilities to BIS reporting banks" both for the locational and the consolidated statistics, as in the previous table of the Joint BIS-IMF-OECD-World Bank website.

• For the convenience of users, a click on any line of the creditor/market table now takes them directly to the corresponding metadata.

1 The Inter-Agency Task Force on Finance Statistics (TFFS) was created in 1992 under the auspices of the United Nations Statistical Commission. Its current members are the Bank for International Settlements, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the European Central Bank, Eurostat, the IMF, the Paris Club Secretariat, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the UN Conference on Trade and Development, and the World Bank. It was the TFFS that produced the External Debt Statistics: Guide for Compilers and Users.


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