IMF World Bank meetings a success, say organisers

IMF managing director Christine Lagarde (second from left) said countries must "de-escalate the tensions, and open and reform the dialogue" in order to address the trade issues. PHOTO: REUTERS

NUSA DUA, BALI - The annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank hosted by the resort island of Bali were a success, officials said on Sunday (Oct 14), adding that they hope the momentum from the meetings could help ease tensions between the world's biggest economies.

In a press briefing on Sunday, IMF managing director Christine Lagarde described the meetings as an incredible achievement and compared them to a wedding ceremony. "You prepare for a long, long, long time and then it goes through so smoothly," she said.

The meetings, which started on Oct 8, occurred at a time when the global economy is facing rising risks from escalating trade tensions between the United States and China, coupled with monetary policy tightening in a number of economies.

Ms Lagarde warned policy makers to build adequate monetary and fiscal buffers as they brace themselves for more market volatility, against the backdrop of continued financial tightening and uncertainties in the global economy triggered by the trade disputes.

"Now is not the time to say, okay, fine, let's just relax and do a bit of fiscal tolerance here and a slowing of reforms," she told Bloomberg Television. The former French finance minister added that to address the trade issues, countries must "de-escalate the tensions, and open and reform the dialogue".

At the press briefing on Sunday, Indonesia's Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said she obtained positive feedback from all participants - ministers, central bankers, and other guests of the meetings."No one gave me any even small complaint about this event," she said. "So it's very successful. Amazing," she said.

Dr Sri Mulyani, formerly the managing director of the World Bank, hoped that the spirit of coordination and collaboration at the meetings will provide "comfortable protection" during "winter time", a reference to Indonesian President Joko Widodo's speech on Friday.

Drawing from popular television series Game of Thrones, Mr Joko had warned finance ministers and central bankers that "winter is coming", noting that the current global economy faces looming challenges from market turmoil, technological disruption to climate change.

Indonesia will pass its position as host to Morocco, which is set to hold the meetings of the 189-member IMF and its sister development organisation World Bank in 2021. The meetings are held outside their headquarters in Washington, DC, once in three years.

At Sunday's press briefing, World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim urged countries to stand together and embrace unity amid ongoing woes in the global economies.

"The challenges can turn into crisis if we don't face them together. The strongest tool that we have to battle those challenges is the kind of solidarity that is embedded in multilateralism," he said. The meetings drew 36,669 delegates and other participants including journalists and academics from all over the world to Indonesia, where a recent earthquake and tsunami rocked one of its major islands, Sulawesi.

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