IMF, World Bank & IFI Round-Up

The IMF needs to increase its relevance and its legitimacy to better respond to international crises, newly appointed Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said. In his first news conference since being nominated for the post over the summer, Strauss-Kahn said overhauls he intends for the IMF will allow it to adapt to “a new balance of power in the world” and “to the new kind of financial crisis” that has hit financial markets recently. “I define myself as a candidate for reform,” Strauss-Kahn said, adding that he will aim to give more representation to emerging countries as soon as he takes office November 1. The 24-member board of shareholder governments voted for Strauss-Kahn over Josef Tosovsky, the former Czech Prime Minister and central banker who was backed by Russia in a bid to challenge the dominance of the US and Europe in the IMF.

Meanwhile, in an interview with Le Monde newspaper, Strauss-Kahn said the IMF should work more closely with other multi-lateral organizations such as the World Bank, the UNDP, and the World Trade Organization to promote a more coherent vision of development. “My first priority is to cross (Washington’s) 19th street and go to the other side where there’s the World Bank,” he said. “My second priority is to cross the equator to Latin America and my third priority is to cross the Pacific to Asia.”

Africa is seeing its strongest economic growth since the 1970s, but this is largely driven by booming commodity prices and the continent needs targeted help to expand trade, a regional forum heard Oct. 1. Donald Kaberuka, head of the African Development Bank (AfDB), said African economies grew on average 5 percent this year, and that was expected to rise to 6 percent next year. “Much of the recovery has been spurred by the price effects (of) rising demand for commodities,” Kaberuka told some 300 delegates at the “Aid for Trade” meeting organized by the AfDB, WTO, UN and World Bank. In the last decade, he said, the world had seen trade and private sector investment almost vanquish poverty in Asia. But many African nations lacked the capacity or infrastructure to benefit fully from the opportunities of global trade.

A new pan-European think-tank modeled on the US Council on Foreign Relations was launched Oct. 2 aiming to stimulate EU foreign policy integration with a mixture of ideas and advocacy. In a joint declaration, the 50 founders of the European Council on Foreign Relations called on the EU to punch its weight in the world, advocating a series of policies to increase European influence. Reuters reports that among their proposals are closer EU cooperation at the UN, the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO, as well as a firm commitment to future membership for Turkey and the Western Balkans.

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