IMF meet in Tokyo to address growth concerns

PTI Tokyo | Updated on October 10, 2012 Published on October 10, 2012

Finding ways to boost the slowing global economy and helping poor nations fend off financial shocks will be on the agenda at meetings this week of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Tokyo.

Upwards of 15,000 people are expected to converge on the Japanese capital and the city’s downtown Tokyo International Forum for a slew of conferences and symposiums.

While the event officially began yesterday, the gathering’s highlight comes on Friday at a plenary meeting with representatives from the Washington-based institutions’ 188 member states.

IMF head Christine Lagarde and her World Bank counterpart Jim Yong Kim will air their views on the global economy, which the IMF warns is slowing markedly, and address issues such as stabilising volatile food prices.

The focus will be on “building resilience against crises and giving voices to developing countries”, World Bank Vice-President Cyril Muller said.

Saturday sees a meeting of the International Monetary and Financial Committee, the body that takes many of the operational decisions for the IMF, including its governance.

Governance reforms

The Tokyo meetings were originally supposed to usher in governance reforms passed two years ago, amid calls from emerging nations for a greater say in the IMF’s affairs.

However, the changes are on ice as the United States has yet to ratify the reforms with the US presidential election looming in November.

Holding the event in Japan, nearly 50 years after it last hosted the meetings in 1964, comes as the nation of 128 million moves past last year’s quake-tsunami disaster and nuclear crisis.

It is a “good opportunity for us to show to the world the recovery of our country”, said Tadehiko Nakao, Vice-Finance Minister for International Affairs.

Japan-China spat

But a blistering spat between the hosts and China over disputed territory is threatening to cast a pall on the meeting, with the Chinese Finance Minister and central bank chief staying away.

Alongside the annual IMF-World Bank meetings, finance ministers from the G7 industrialised nations — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States — meet tomorrow in Tokyo.

“We will focus very much on global growth prospects,” said a senior US Treasury official.

Japan’s new finance minister, Koriki Jojima, who has been in the job just over a week, said he may use the G7 to discuss the strength of the yen.

“The yen’s recent one-way rise isn’t reflective of Japan’s economic fundamentals,” Jojima said last week.

With the US Federal Reserve starting a third burst of monetary stimulus known as quantitative easing, other economies fear a repeat of the previous rounds when the dollar eroded in value to the detriment of their exporting firms.

Published on October 10, 2012
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