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ECOSOC Financing for Development Forum Special High-Level Meeting with the Bretton Woods Institutions, the WTO and UNCTAD

Statement by Sabina Bhatia, Deputy Secretary of the IMF New York

April 16, 2019

Ambassador Rhonda King, your excellencies, distinguished guests, on behalf of the Chairman of the International Monetary and Financial Committee, thank you for your invitation to participate in today’s meeting.

I would like to give you a summary of the IMF’s strategic priorities as outlined in the IMFC communiqué during the recent IMF/WB Spring Meetings.

My remarks will focus on three broad issues:

  • The economic outlook;
  • Policy priorities of member countries; and
  • How the IMF can help.

Economic Outlook

Let me start with the outlook—the global economy is at a delicate moment. A year ago, economic activity was accelerating in almost all regions of the world. One year later, much has changed.

The global expansion is continuing but at a slower pace since the IMF’s Annual Meetings in October, and we are projecting a slowdown in growth for 70 percent of the world economy. Growth is expected to firm up again in 2020.

However, the expected rebound is subject to several downside risks, including trade tensions, policy uncertainty, and geopolitical risks.

Which brings me to my second point—policy priorities of member countries.

Policy Priorities of Member Countries

In terms of policy priorities, Ministers agreed to act promptly to protect the expansion.

The communiqué outlines the IMFC members’ commitment to take the necessary actions at the national and international level to support the recovery and build resilience.

  • At the national level:
  • Fiscal policy should remain flexible and growth-friendly, rebuild buffers and strike the right balance between debt sustainability, supporting demand, and safeguarding social objectives.
  • Monetary policy should ensure that inflation is on track toward targets, and inflation expectations remain well-anchored.
  • It will be important to tackle financial stability risks, if they emerge, using all available tools, including macroprudential tools.
  • At the international level, IMFC members committed to work together to strengthen international cooperation and frameworks to confront broader global challenges. Priorities include trade, global imbalances, international corporate taxation, debt vulnerabilities, climate change and cyber risks.
  • IMFC members committed to support efforts toward achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

How the IMF can help

Turning now to what the IMF can do to help our members to achieve sustainable and more inclusive growth.

IMFC members welcomed the IMF Managing Director’s Global Policy Agenda, titled “Joint Responsibility, Shared Rewards.”

IMF Executive Director, Ms. Riach will go into more detail on what the IMF is doing to help countries meet the 2030 SDGs, including addressing public debt vulnerabilities and tackling fintech issues—our topics for this afternoon’s session.

So let me elaborate on a few other areas.

  • The IMF is working on a more integrated policy framework that further considers the interactions between monetary, exchange rate, macroprudential, and capital flow management policies.
  • The IMF is also enhancing its engagement on governance, including corruption, through a new governance framework. We estimate curbing corruption could save up to $1 trillion in global tax revenue annually.
  • To foster inclusion and opportunities, the IMF Board will soon be considering how the IMF can more systematically engage on social spending issues. As input to this process, IMF staff have consulted widely with stakeholders, including UN agencies such as the ILO and UNICEF.
  • We will also enhance the effectiveness of engagement with fragile and conflict-affected states.
  • We will continue to help countries build their tax capacity and work closely with other partners (WB, UN, OECD) through the Platform for Collaboration on Tax.
  • In line with our mandate, we will continue to provide guidance on members’ implementation of climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies, and will support resilience building in countries vulnerable to natural disasters, particularly small states.

In closing, let me reiterate that the Fund is committed to helping countries meet the 2030 SDGs, through our policy advice and capacity development. The IMF Managing Director has called for a new multilateralism for the 21st century that is more inclusive and ensures that all global stakeholders take collective responsibility for addressing our shared challenges.

With that, let me hand the floor back to the Chair. Thank you.

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