Peter Costello

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IMF/World Bank Meetings Focus on World Economic Outlook and Reducing Poverty

NO.029

IMF/World Bank Meetings Focus on World Economic Outlook and Reducing Poverty

The Spring Meetings of the IMF and World Bank in Washington on 29-30 April focused on the world economic outlook and, in particular, recent downgrades of world growth prospects. Discussion also covered financial packages for crisis affected countries in Turkey and Argentina, the need for an enhanced focus on crisis prevention, and the importance of renewed efforts at reducing poverty and strengthening growth in the low-income countries.

Some of the important themes that were emphasised by Australia were: the interdependence of world economies; the need for vigilance by policymakers to support growth through appropriate monetary policy, fiscal policy and ongoing structural reform; and that one of the most important steps to enhancing world growth, including in particular the prospects for developing countries, would be decisive steps to liberalise world trade as part of the next multilateral trade round.

The meetings also discussed steps to enhance the IMF’s efforts at strengthening the international financial system, reducing vulnerabilities, and improving its capacity to respond to crises. This included work on streamlining the conditionality attached to Fund programs, improving surveillance, enhancing the understanding of financial market issues, and steps to combat financial abuse and money laundering.

Special attention was given at the meetings to efforts by the IMF and World Bank to strengthen growth and fight poverty. There was agreement on the need for a comprehensive approach, which includes debt relief, concessional financing, extended market access, and in particular, helping developing countries strengthen their institutions and maintain sound economic and social policies.

The meetings reviewed the substantial progress achieved with the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, which is providing substantial debt relief to HIPCs and what other measures would best address the needs of poor economies affected by conflicts.

Discussions also included the World Bank’s strategy in middle income countries, leveraging trade for development, an action program for combating HIV/AIDS and the role of global public goods in development and poverty reduction.

30 April 2001

30 Apr 2001

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