The total global outstanding debt owed to the IMF rose to $109.2bn as of September 5, following the $1.1bn bailout granted to Pakistan at the end of August, IMF data has shown. 

The IMF’s top 10 debtors account for the lion’s share of this outstanding balance, at 72.7%, despite there being a total 93 countries owing it money. 

Advertisement

Argentina is the biggest debtor to the IMF, with a total outstanding debt of $42.2bn. The country has had a long and troubled relationship with the IMF, with a history of equally spectacular fall-outs and bail-outs. At the turn of the century, the IMF made $88.3bn available to bail out the country’s ailing economy. Despite discontent and political turmoil, then president Néstor Kirchner repaid the entire debt in 2006.

His eventual successor, Mauricio Macri, went to the IMF for a $50bn bailout in 2018 — the biggest rescue in the IMF’s history. However, the country soon found itself in dire straits again, and returned resorted to the IMF in 2022 for another $44bn loan. 

Egypt is the second-largest debtor by amount, with an outstanding balance of $17.6bn. Its economy deteriorated following the Egyptian revolution in 2011 and falling revenues from the Suez Canal. The government thus sought an IMF deal to unlock $12bn of cash in 2016. The Fund then approved further loans of $2.72bn and $5.2bn to address the impact of Covid-19 in 2020. 

Human Rights Watch, a non-governmental organisation on human rights, said in August that the IMF loans introduced economic policy changes, but structural problems remain. 

On March 23, the Egyptian government requested additional support from the IMF to help to mitigate the economic fallout from external conditions including the Ukraine War, but negotiations are still undergoing.

Ukraine also features among the IMF’s largest debtors with a total outstanding debt of $9.37bn. The Ukraine government first agreed to a $2.2bn IMF loan in 1998. The IMF then agreed to lend Ukraine a further $15.15bn in 2010, but the deal was frozen in 2011 amid the lack of reform efforts, the IMF said in 2012. After Russia invaded Ukraine, the IMF provided Ukraine with a $1.4bn loan in March 2022. 

Pakistan is the fourth-largest debtor of the IMF, with a total outstanding debt of $7.85bn. The IMF recently lent the country $1.1bn to avert default due to spillovers from the war in Ukraine and domestic challenges including devastating floods, according to the IMF’s August 29 statement. 

Two Latin American countries, Ecuador and Colombia, are the fifth and sixth with respective outstanding debts of $7.22bn and $4.8bn. Both countries have a long history with the IMF, dating back to the 1960s and 50s, respectively. The IMF recently assessed the countries’ economic status positively in its Western Hemisphere press briefing in April, while there is still uncertainty and tightening monetary policy from the Ukraine war and high inflation.

Four sub-Saharan African economies round out the top 10 debtors: Angola, South Africa, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire. All four received support to address the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. The IMF said the recovery in the region picked up last year, but it will face challenges, including high inflationary pressure and commodity prices in April.