Press Release: IMF and African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States Intensify Cooperation
December 7, 2011Press Release No. 11/445
December 7, 2011
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States agreed today to strengthen their cooperation in the field of capacity building to bolster members’ economic institutions and policy making expertise. IMF Deputy Managing Director Nemat Shafik and ACP Secretary General Mohamed Ibn Chambas signed a memorandum in Brussels acknowledging their common interest in fostering sustainable capacity building initiatives in the ACP States and in establishing and maintaining effective consultation, cooperation, and exchange of views and information.
Before the signing ceremony, in a presentation to the ACP Ministerial Committee on Development Finance Cooperation, Ms. Shafik discussed how the global economic crisis has affected low-income countries as well as the IMF’s response. “Though low-income countries have been affected significantly by the crisis, many were able to mitigate the impact of the shock with a countercyclical policy response. Now it is critical that ACP and other low-income countries strengthen buffers against future shocks by mobilizing domestic revenues, increasing domestic savings, further developing local financial markets, and expenditure prioritization,” Ms. Shafik said.
In addition to its policy advice and lending, the IMF actively assists countries in building capacity in its areas of expertise. Half of IMF technical assistance already benefits ACP countries, most of it delivered through six Regional Technical Assistance Centers. The global financial crisis and continued vulnerabilities of ACP countries make the advice and technical assistance provided through these centers even more relevant. The planned expansion of the centers serving ACP regions, including the opening of a new Center in West Africa as soon as funding has been secured, would permit virtually full coverage of the ACP zone.
“The network of regional technical assistance centers serving ACP countries is a project that benefits all your members and help them better address the growing volatility of the economic environment. It greatly contributes to reinforce coordination between the national, the regional and the supra-regional level in the ACP zone. The IMF is determined to further develop its cooperation with the ACP Group,” Ms. Shafik stressed during the signing ceremony.
Mr. Chambas noted: “There are substantial synergies between the regional technical assistance centers and the core work of the ACP group. The areas in which the technical assistance centers are providing assistance, such as debt and revenue management, are critical in helping ACP countries to navigate through these challenging times.”
The global economic and financial crisis pushed up demand for IMF technical assistance, but countries are also seeking to build their institutions. At the same time, the IMF is moving forward with a broad range of measures to respond more effectively in helping its members deal with emerging economic challenges. In order to both meet rising demand and better coordinate assistance delivery, the IMF is engaging donors on a broader, longer-term, and more strategic basis. As part of these efforts, the IMF is expanding its network of Regional Technical Assistance Centers.
The first center (PFTAC), established in 1993 in Fiji, now serves 16 Pacific Island Countries The Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Center (CARTAC), opened in Barbados in 2001, serves 20 Caribbean countries and territories. As part of the IMF’s Africa Capacity-Building Initiative launched in May 2002 (see Press Release No. 02/24), there are now four centers in Africa. AFRITAC East, opened in Tanzania in 2002, serves seven countries. AFRITAC West, opened in Mali in 2003, serves 10 countries in Francophone West Africa. AFRITAC Central, opened in Gabon in 2007, serves nine countries. AFRITAC South, which was just inaugurated in October 2011 in Mauritius (see Press Release No 11/364) covers 13 countries in Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean. Planning is in progress to open a center in Ghana to cover non-Francophone countries in West Africa (AFRITAC West 2). This will almost complete coverage of the ACP countries by the RTAC network.
The Dominican Republic is covered by the regional center for Central America (CAPTAC-DR), opened in Guatemala in 2009 to serve seven countries, and Sudan has benefited from the services of the Middle East Technical Assistance Center (METAC) located in Lebanon since 2004, along with nine other countries.
Complementing the regional perspective, topical trust funds (TTFs) provide technical assistance globally on specific topics. The TTF on Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism was launched successfully in May 2009 (see Press Release 09/108). In May 2011 TTFs were launched on Managing Natural Resource Wealth (Press Release No. 10/497), and on Tax Policy and Administration (Press Release No. 11/133). A further TTF is envisaged on sustainable debt strategies.