Pakistan’s Old Debts Will Expose it to Costlier Debt Financing: Moody’s

Moody’s Investors Service says that international bonds issued by frontier market governments including Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Asia Pacific and Africa are coming due over the next two years in a tighter refinancing environment.

Pakistan is likely to face high refinancing cost for its international bonds maturing over the next two years that would increase the country’s debt burden, ratings agency Moody’s said on Wednesday.

The credit rating agency said that Pakistan tops the countries that “will prove the most exposed to more costly debt financing as (its) international sovereign bonds mature in 2019 and 2020,” which included Sri Lanka (B1 negative), Armenia (B1 positive) and Pakistan (B3 negative) in particular — and to a lesser extent, Honduras (B1 stable) and Kenya (B2 stable).

Moody’s also says that if the tighter financing conditions are pronounced and sustained, such a situation would weaken the debt affordability for these countries, and raise their debt burden, especially if local currencies depreciate.

And, while such vulnerability is embedded in Moody’s ratings for Sri Lanka, Armenia and Pakistan, a further drain on these sovereigns’ foreign exchange reserves would raise the risk of lower capital inflows and higher refinancing costs; posing negative pressure on the three countries’ credit profiles.

Moody’s analysis is contained in its just-released report titled ‘Sovereigns — Frontier markets: Maturing international bonds contribute to exposure to financing risks’.

Moody’s report reviewed international bond issuance from frontier market governments, defined as governments with a rating of Ba1 or lower and relying on concessional financing for more than 40% of their external financing needs. The report covered 40 governments that met this criteria.

Moody’s explains that over the last decade, abundant global liquidity has favored an increase in international bond issuance by frontier market governments, with about $ 4 billion of frontier market international sovereign bonds maturing each year from 2019 through 2021, mainly from Asian governments.

For some frontier market sovereigns, international bonds now account for a sizeable share of economy-wide external debt and total government debt. Sharp and sustained rises in financing costs would therefore hurt the credit profiles of these countries.

Currently, at least eight Pakistani bonds are trading in the international market. A five-year Eurobond that fetched the country one billion dollars in 2014 is maturing next year.

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