IMF, World Bank & IFI Round-Up

The World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) have welcomed an initiative launched by 12 countries in the Americas to promote free trade in the Western Hemisphere. The “Pathways to Prosperity Initiative” was announced Sept. 25 after leaders from Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Peru and the US met in New York. IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno and World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick hailed the initiative as a timely effort to defend Latin America’s hard-earned economic gains in the face of global financial instability. Trade has been a powerful tool for growth in this region, which has often relied on exports to recover from past crises.

The World Bank said Sept. 26 that 10 nations had pledged more than USD 6.1 billion to its new investment funds aimed at helping developing countries fight global warming. The Climate Investment Funds, launched on July 1, are aimed at providing ‘interim, scaled-up funding to help developing countries in their efforts to mitigate increases in greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change,’ the multilateral development lender said in a statement. The pledges were made Friday at a meeting at the World Bank’s headquarters in Washington. The donors were Australia, Britain, France, and Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and US.

The African Union (AU) and the World Bank have recommitted to deepen their collaboration and cooperation in fostering Africa’s reintegration, sustainable development and the fight against poverty. In a MoU signed Sept. 26 the two institutions undertake to deepen their collaboration in the areas of regional integration, governance, post-conflict countries, relations with the Diaspora, and HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases. “We want to understand how to complement the AU’s work and we need to keep our vision big, even though we also need a mixture of activities including some smaller projects,” World Bank President Robert Zoellick said, adding that the Bank was ready to help in “building the legitimacy of the African Union in various countries by working with the AU to promote and support real progress.”

Ecobank Transnational and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) have announced that they are joining forces to strengthen Africa’s banking sector and increase lending to small and medium-scaled enterprises that have difficulty in accessing credit. A statement from Ecobank said under the arrangement, the IFC will provide a financing package of up to USD 213 million to Ecobank, consisting of USD 100 million convertible loan to support the bank’s regional expansion. The IFC also plans to work with Ecobank to increase financing for critical sectors, including agribusiness, education, health, housing and infrastructure.

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