Transcript of a Press Briefing by Caroline Atkinson, Director of External Relations

Washington, D.C.,
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Webcast of the press briefing Webcast

MS. ATKINSON: Good morning, everybody. I apologize for starting a little bit late. I’m Caroline Atkinson, Director of External Relations at the IMF. And I’d like to welcome those of you here, and all the journalists online, participating via the online briefing center. As usual, the briefing is embargoed until 10:30 a.m. Washington time, 15:30 GMT.

Before I throw the floor or the computer open to questions, I’ll just make a couple of announcements. First of all, as you may know, today and tomorrow in our headquarters we’re hosting an annual research conference, the Jacques Polak Annual Research Conference. It’s now in its tenth year, and we have an outstanding list of presenters and participants. This is open to the media and all of the reporters who would like to attend and haven’t yet registered can still do so. There are full details available on our Website. And also Olivier Blanchard posted a blog post the other day that described a little bit more about the conference.

Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn has just delivered some remarks, which are available to you. He and the First Deputy Managing Director, Mr. Lipsky, will be going today, I think, or tomorrow to St. Andrews for the G-20 Ministers, Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting. And that takes place on Friday and Saturday, the 6th and 7th of November.

Just to let you know that, as with other meetings of the G-20, Fund staff has provided an analysis to the G-20 participants that as usual we expect will be published a few days after the meeting. And we will give you a media advisory for that.

After St. Andrews, the Managing Director is going to be traveling to Asia. This is an important trip, and he will be going first to Singapore where he will deliver a lecture, the 2009 MAS, Monetary Authority of Singapore, lecture on November 13 on the role of Asia in reshaping the global economy. We’ll be giving you a media advisory, and we’ll be having the text available for you.

He then goes to China on the 16th and 17th of November where he’ll be visiting with the Chinese authorities, talking to them about the international policy response to the crisis and prospects going forward and the role of Asia. Whilst in China, he will be visiting with students and faculty at the University in Beijing, and also participating in the International Finance Forum, which is a fairly major event. Both of those, of course, are open also.

Finally, Deputy Managing Director Murilo Portugal is in Brasilia today, taking part in a conference organized by the Parliamentary Commission and will be making a presentation on Brazilian debt.

So let me now turn to your questions, remind you and the journalists participating online to let us know your name and affiliation.

QUESTIONER: Can you give us any update on loan talks with Jamaica and with Iraq, please?

MS. ATKINSON: Thank you. On Jamaica, there is a mission in the field now. We expect they’ll be wrapping up in some days’ time and we will give you an update then.

In Iraq, I’m sorry. I’ll have to come back to you on that one.

Okay, there’s a question online: “Do you have any news about Argentina’s stated intention to come back to the IMF? Or is there any progress in the negotiation of the conditions that the Argentinean government is asking to allow the Article IV inspection?”—and a couple of questions along these lines.

And I’d just like to say again that, of course, we’re ready and open. We have discussions with the authorities. We’re ready and open to have an Article 4 consultation. We have very well set-out procedures for those. There are technical and analytical discussions. We have not received any specific request. We have no specific plans for an Article 4 consultation with Argentina at the present. Thank you.

QUESTIONER: I’d like to ask a question on Ukraine. Maybe you will talk very particularly, but obviously they are not following your advice at all, so what may happen now? Can this break a deal? May you stop helping them? Can you withdraw your support?

MS. ATKINSON: Well, as you know, we have the mission chief, Ceyla Pazarbazioglu, published—we published an interview with her yesterday on our Website, which I think lays out pretty clearly where we are. It points to the progress that has been made in the last year in Ukraine in stabilizing the economy, bringing down inflation, and so on. And also the need for continued sound policies, and it makes the point that in Ukraine, as in any other country, the key is to have a broad consensus. And we need to see that consensus behind the appropriate measures, measures that will deliver a sustainable, strong, recovery that will help Ukraine before we move forward. But we’re with the third review, but of course, we remain in discussions.

There’s a question online: “What is your view on the decision of the Icelandic Central Bank today to lower the benchmark interest rate from 12 percent to 11 percent? Is it in accordance with the IMF economic plan for Iceland? Could the decision possibly threaten the stability of the exchange rate?”

Well, as you know, we don’t typically comment on individual central bank moves. We have said, and as you know also, the Iceland review has moved forward now with the Executive Board. And we also have published all of the surrounding—all of the backup documents. They’re available, I think—since Tuesday they’ve been available on our Website. And I think those make clear that interest rate movements, of course, need to balance the need for growth and recovery in light of what’s happening in developments with inflation and the exchange rate.

Are there other questions?

QUESTIONER: Since we are [coming up to] the G-20, [tell us] something about the IMF expectations in terms of lining up exit strategy, and more specifically about a possible role in redefining of the framework and the role of the IMF coming out of the G-20?

MS. ATKINSON: Those are two important items on the agenda of the G-20. The Managing Director has made very clear that it’s important to think about and to work on possible exit strategies. It’s too soon to implement them. It’s important that there should be a strong and sustained recovery and evidence of that before governments move forward on exit strategies. But we have been thinking a lot about exit strategies that will no doubt be part of the discussion and part of the background documentation that we’ve been providing.

The other issue on the framework for mutual assessment—that is another element that is very important. Of course, this is something that is supposed to … be discussed at the summit I believe in a year’s time. But there will be, I’m sure, discussions about how to take it forward, that all of the G-20 countries will be very interested in as we are. We take this as a very serious responsibility. And we were very glad that the IMFC in Istanbul put that as one of the four Istanbul decisions; that the Fund should work on that issue.

Other questions?

QUESTIONER: Just a small question. In light of the gold sales that were announced this week, and I’ve been having a lot of questions of concretely what happens to this gold? Is it shipped to India? Physically, what happens to it?

MS. ATKINSON: I will get back to you to confirm, but we have some gold in India anyway. We keep our gold in a number of different places. So physically, I’m not sure. I would suspect that a piece of paper describes who owns the gold and that’s the transaction that takes place rather than there are actual shipments. But we can get back to you with more of that detail.

Are there other questions? That’s it for now—just to remind you of the embargo, which is for 10:30 our time. Thank you.



IMF EXTERNAL RELATIONS DEPARTMENT

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