What Conclusions Can Be Drawn from the Initiatives to Cancel the Debt of Heavily Indebted Poor Countries?

Marin Ferry * Maître de conférences, Université Gustave Eiffel (UGE) ; chercheur, laboratoire ERUDITE ; chercheur associé, Laboratoire d'économie de Dauphine (LEDa). Contact : marin.ferry@univ-eiffel.fr.


The moratorium of April 2020 on debt service for poor countries (the Debt Service Standstill Initiative) has led to a certain resurgence of debates on debt relief initiatives for poor countries. However, and despite a multiplication of studies on the subject, their effects on the development of beneficiary countries are still relatively unclear, because of a lack of exposure but also and above all due to a lack of consensus. This article aims to describe the functioning of these initiatives, their objectives, and draws up an assessment of their impacts, twenty years after their implementation. While the effects on growth remain mixed for the time being, the literature has highlighted some positive effects of these debt relief programs on the public finances of recipient states and on certain human development indicators. The picture is therefore rather encouraging, but conceals some imperfections that will need to be corrected in the event of further debt cancellation.


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