What is 'External Debt'

The portion of a country's debt that was borrowed from foreign lenders including commercial banks, governments or international financial institutions. These loans, including interest, must usually be paid in the currency in which the loan was made. In order to earn the needed currency, the borowing country may sell and export goods to the lender's country.

BREAKING DOWN 'External Debt'

A debt crisis can occur if a country with a weak economy is not able to repay external debt due to the inability to produce and sell goods and make a profitable return. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is one of the agencies that keep track of the country's external debt.

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