News from Asia and the Pacific

Tips on How to Read IMF Country-based Surveillance Reports Shared with Private Sector

September 2, 2019, Tokyo – Aiming to develop a good understanding of the IMF’s economic surveillance among members of the private sector, the Fund’s regional office in Tokyo organized for the first time an open seminar for financial and trading companies to impart tips on how to read IMF country-based surveillance reports, otherwise known as Article IV Staff Reports.

The A IV reports are public reports on the economic situation in each of the IMF’s 189 member countries and include IMF staff’s policy recommendations. Each year, economists visit member countries to review their fiscal, financial and currency policies, provide practical advice for sustainable economic development, and pull their analysis and advice together into the reports. This consultation is based on the Article IV of the IMF Articles of Agreement.

The seminar was a follow-up initiative of the Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (OAP) from last year’s presentations on A IV reading given during two closed sessions with the private sector. This time, OAP invited representatives of trading and financial companies – banks, life insurance companies, brokerage firms and trading businesses – and presented the case of Vietnam’s annual economic surveillance since Vietnam has become an increasingly attractive investment destination for Japanese investors.

“Our office takes up IMF’s economic surveillance through the Article IV consultations, and looks at regional economic situations throughout Asia,” said OAP Director Chikahisa Sumi. “A IV reports are important products of our economic surveillance.”

During the seminar, OAP’s four economists presented an overview of the IMF, the content of a typical A IV report with tips on where to find key points, an explanation of the IMF’s Debt Sustainability Analysis, and an introduction to the IMF’s External Balance Assessment model as an external sector evaluation tool. 

The economists also used the event to introduce the IMF website, its flagship products, including the recent update on the World Economic Outlook (WEO), and the IMF’s free online courses available on the edX platform.

The 55 participants showed great interest in the seminar. During the Q&A session, they posed questions about the preparation for A IV consultation missions, such as writing up a policy note and deciding the timing of a mission visit during times of political change, and about discussions during board meetings for the A IV consultation. Some also asked about specific current economic developments in Vietnam. Responding to a seminar questionnaire, 91% of participants said they were satisfied with the seminar contents and wanted to learn more about the IMF and its various analytical products. The regional office in Tokyo plans to continue hosting similar seminars for business practitioners in the future.