Chapter

Appendix IV. IMF Relations with Other International Organizations

Author(s):
International Monetary Fund
Published Date:
September 1999
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The lessons and experiences of the Asian financial crisis, and the need to strengthen the architecture of the international financial system, led to continuing extensive collaboration between the IMF and other international organizations in 1998/99. The IMF worked closely with such organizations as the World Bank, the United Nations and its specialized agencies, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), and other institutions sharing common interests and goals on different aspects of the global economy, including financial, structural, and social issues of importance to strengthening the international financial system.

Liaison with Other Organizations

The IMF’s Office in Europe, the Office in Geneva, the Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, and the IMF Office at the United Nations all provide vital links between the IMF and other international organizations. The Paris Office reports on the activities of the international and regional institutions located throughout Europe, including the OECD, the BIS, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and the European Commission. The Office also coordinates with various European monetary authorities and is responsible for organizing meetings of the Group of Ten industrial countries. The IMF’s Office in Geneva reports on, and monitors, the activities of Geneva-based socioeconomic agencies, particularly those emphasizing the multilateral trading system and trade-related developments in the European Union. These institutions include, among others, the WTO, the International Labor Organization (ILO), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Staff of the Paris Office in cooperation with other departments in the IMF participated in the preparation of documents on developments in the European Union, including those on progress toward European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). The IMF has been cooperating closely with the BIS in developing a code of good practices on transparency in monetary and financial policies, which was supported by the Group of Seven industrial countries in their communiqué of February 20, 1999. Effective January 5, 1999, the IMF granted the European Central Bank (ECB) observer status at selected Executive Board meetings when items of mutual interest are discussed. Recently, the first of a new series of quarterly releases of statistics on external debt for 176 developing and transition countries was jointly published by the BIS, the IMF, the OECD, and the World Bank (see Chapter 5). The aim of this initiative is to facilitate access to a single set of data that brings together information currently compiled and published separately by the contributing institutions on components of countries’ external debt. Contributing organizations also include the United Nations, the ECB, and the Statistical Office of the European Communities (Eurostat).

The IMF’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, located in Tokyo, is responsible for ensuring the IMF’s participation in, and awareness of, economic and financial developments in the region. The Office promotes an IMF dialogue with Asian policymakers through various regional policy forums. It maintains close contact with the Asian Development Bank (AsDB) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), as well as with the World Bank’s office in Japan. It also participates in the Consultative Group meetings of donor nations held in the Asia and Pacific region.

Relations with the United Nations

Collaboration between the IMF and the United Nations and its specialized agencies, both in New York and overseas, is coordinated by the IMF Office at the UN in New York. The focus of the UN Office is to define and strengthen cooperation in such areas as the social aspects of adjustment, the environment, sustainable development, and those issues likely to affect the formulation of macroeconomic, financial, and fiscal policies. The Office reports to the Executive Board on the annual deliberations of the General Assembly and the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). In its report on the Annual Substantive Session of the ECOSOC (held in New York in July 1998), staff observed that collaboration between the Bretton Woods institutions and the UN system is part of the larger effort by the UN to harmonize the goals and programs of the international financial institutions with UN programs. The dominant theme of the fifty-third session of the General Assembly of the United Nations (held in New York from September 17 to December 18, 1998) was the recent global financial crisis and proposals to reform the monetary and financial system. The IMF was recognized as playing a central role in helping its members design appropriate policies and structural reforms in the global economy.

All the IMF offices outside of headquarters provide analytical input on issues and policies and also represent the IMF at meetings on developing country matters, expert meetings, and lectures and seminars. These offices maintain operational linkages with management and other IMF departments on various issues and on the reciprocal transmittal of documents between the IMF and other international organizations.

Relations with the World Trade Organization

The IMF’s Geneva Office represents the IMF in ministerial conferences and meetings of the WTO, including participation at the WTO’s Committee on Balance of Payments Restrictions. Since December 1996, when the Cooperation Agreement between the IMF and the WTO was signed, cooperation between the two organizations has expanded. Management and staff contacts have occurred at all levels, with attendance at respective meetings and exchanges of documents and information. All this has led to enhanced understanding between the two institutions. After their October 3, 1998, meeting in Washington, the heads of the IMF, the World Bank, and the WTO issued a joint statement in which they underscored the importance of continued collaboration among the international organizations concerned with the global economy.

Collaboration with the World Bank

Over the years, the IMF and the World Bank have closely coordinated their efforts as mandated in their respective Articles of Agreements and in the 1989 Concordat clarifying the two institutions’ areas of responsibility (see also Chapter 5). In the light of the recent financial crises, the two institutions focused on an intensified collaborative effort in monitoring developments in the financial system, especially in areas such as surveillance, policy advice, lending operations, and crisis management. The IMF’s Interim Committee, in its communiqué of October 4, 1998, stressed the importance of stronger cooperation in helping countries implement integrated stabilization and structural reform programs and in strengthening financial systems. A Bank-IMF Financial Sector Liaison Committee was established in September 1998 to advance the delineation of financial sector work by IMF and Bank staff in individual countries and help make best use of institutional expertise. The Committee will also promote the dissemination of good practices and standards and help to resolve differences of view on financial sector issues.

Both institutions have also given priority to collaboration on public sector reform and social sector issues; on the latter, IMF staff attended the Conference on Social Issues at the World Bank Regional Meeting held in Bangkok on January 21, 1999. The intensified efforts of the IMF and the Bank have helped ensure the integration of public expenditure reforms in IMF-supported stabilization and adjustment programs and enhanced the quality of policy advice and technical assistance given to member countries. The management of both organizations are committed to continuing intensive collaboration on the Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility (ESAF) as well as the Initiative for the heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC Initiative). This includes periodic consultations of senior staff, participation in each other’s missions, attendance at each other’s meetings, and sharing of information. Collaboration at the staff level, both in policy advice and operational matters, is supported by the ongoing dialogue between IMF and Bank management.

Cooperation with Regional Development Banks

The IMF’s role in strengthening the global financial system includes continued cooperation with such multilateral and regional developments banks as the African Development Bank (AfDB), the AsDB, the EBRD, and the Inter-American Development Bank (IaDB). On September 30, 1998, multilateral creditors to the heavily indebted poor countries (HIPCs) met under the chairmanship of the World Bank. IMF staff joined the meeting and briefed participants on various aspects of the HIPC Initiative. The Executive Board’s approval in July 1997 of a proposal to allow representatives of multilateral creditors to attend country-specific IMF Executive Board discussions on HIPC matters has strengthened further the IMF’s partnership with development banks. Collaboration with the multilateral development banks includes formulation and implementation of policies in the economic and financial areas, release of information, staff visits, and attendance at meetings. IMF staff regularly participate in meetings, seminars, and forums sponsored by other regional, economic, and financial organizations in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Middle East. On January 22, 1999, the AfDB, the IMF, and the World Bank established the Joint Africa Institute (JAI) to provide policy-related training to government officials and other participants from African countries (see Chapter 9). Courses offered by the JAI will focus on macroeconomic management and policies and on such structural, social, and project-related issues as governance, poverty alleviation, growth, and the environment.

Role of IMF Management

IMF Managing Director Michel Camdessus plays a vital role in the continued collaboration among the IMF, other international organizations, and multilateral and regional development banks. On July 6, 1998, Mr. Camdessus addressed the High-Level Meeting of the ECOSOC where he drew attention to the work in progress on a new architecture for the international monetary system and on the Asian financial crisis. He attended meetings of the UN Administrative Committee for Coordination (ACC) in October 1998 and April 1999. He also delivered the opening address at the IMF Conference on Transition held in February 1999 in Washington, in which staff of other international financial institutions such as the EBRD and the World Bank also participated. Mr. Camdessus traveled to Paris in March 1999 to address and attend the annual meetings of the Inter-American Development Bank and to New York in April 1999 to attend a special session of the UN ECOSOC.

In recent years, the Deputy Managing Directors of the IMF have supported the efforts of the Managing Director in enhancing collaboration with other international organizations. First Deputy Managing Director Stanley Fischer participated in the monthly meeting of the BIS in February 1999, and in March he participated in the ILO Governing Body Symposium on the Asian financial crisis. Deputy Managing Director Alassane Ouattara addressed the members of the Second Committee of the UN General Assembly and met with the UN Secretary-General in June 1998. And Deputy Managing Director Shigemitsu Sugisaki participated in the WTO High- Level Symposium on Trade and Development in March 1999.

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