Chart of the Week May 19, 2023: Increasing External Debt of ASEAN Countries


ASEAN-10 countries broadly experienced loss of net external wealth in 2021, with the loss being the smallest for major oil producers such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. The gap in net external wealth between the richer and the poorer countries further widened, as the poorest nations in the region (Myanmar and Cambodia) experienced steep decline in net external wealth post-pandemic.


  • The main contributing factor to the deterioration in net external wealth is highly heterogeneous across the ASEAN-10 countries.
  • The deterioration in net external wealth of Myanmar and Cambodia in 2021 is driven by the increase in net foreign debt owed by the two countries and the decrease in their net foreign direct investment positions.
  • Interestingly, the net external wealth positions in 2020 was not too badly affected by the pandemic, possibly due to the weakening of US dollar, which depreciated the value of these countries’ dollar debts.

Data Source: Milesi-Ferretti, Gian Maria, 2022, “The External Wealth of Nations Database,” The Brookings Institution (based on Lane, Philip R. and Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti, 2018, “The External Wealth of Nations Revisited: International Financial Integration in the Aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis,” IMF Economic Review 66, 189-222.)

Article By LIU, Jingting

Graphic By GE, Yixuan

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