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External debt (or foreign debt) is that part of the total debt in a country that is owed to creditors outside the country. The debtors can be the government, corporations or private households. The debt includes money owed to private commercial banks, other governments, or international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. Note that the use of gross liability figures greatly distorts the ratio for countries which contain major money centers, e.g. United Kingdom, because of London's role as a major money centre. Contrast Net international investment position
PEP defines it as "Gross external debt, at any given time, is the outstanding amount of those actual current, and not contingent, liabilities that require payment(s) of principal and/or interest by the debtor at some point(s) in the future and that are owed to nonresidents by residents of an economy".
In this definition, IMF defines the key elements as follows:
Generally external debt is classified into four heads: (1) public and publicly guaranteed debt; (2) private non-guaranteed credits; (3) central bank deposits; and (4) loans due to the IMF. However the exact treatment varies