Myanmar’s Foreign Debt — The Big Picture

By Nan Lwin 10 July 2018

YANGON — Myanmar has total foreign debts of over USD9.1 billion, and almost half of that is owed to China, according to data from a Union Parliament committee.

According to the Joint Bill Committee’s Statement No. (1) 2018, almost half of the debt, or USD4.27 billion, was acquired before 1988. The country borrowed a further USD3.3 billion between fiscal 1988-89 and 2010-11, and another $1.5 billion in 2012.

Myanmar’s debt-to-GDP ratio is about 16 percent. China is the biggest lender; Myanmar owes more than $3.8 billion to China, compared to $2.1 billion to Japan.

Under the National League for Democracy in fiscal 2016-17, the government contracted 14 loan agreements with five international organizations with repayment periods of 20 to 40 years and interest rates of 0.01 to 1.5 percent.

The government borrowed USD404.809 million from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to implement five projects, USD1,115.761 million from the Japan International Cooperation Agency to implement six projects, and USD193.497 million from the International Development Association (IDA) to implement one project. During that fiscal year, Myanmar received the highest number of loans from Japan.

Explore the following Irrawaddy Story Map Infographics to see who Myanmar’s top creditors are.

Top lenders to Myanmar

Major loan recipients

According to the Union Parliament’s Joint Bill Committee, the Ministry of Electricity and Energy receives 32.53 percent of the loans, followed by the Ministry of Planning and Finance with 23.38 percent.

Explore the following chart to see what proportion of total lending the various recipients receive.