Press Release: IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn's Statement at the Conclusion of his visit to the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya

November 18, 2008

Press Release No. 08/290

Mr. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), participated in the fourth annual conference on Progress in Regional Integration and Promotion of Joint Ventures in the Maghreb,1 which took place in Tripoli, Libya. At the conclusion of his visit to Libya Mr. Strauss-Kahn issued the following statement:

"It has been a great pleasure to participate in the conference on Progress in Regional Integration and Promotion of Joint Ventures in the Maghreb and exchange views with finance ministers, central bank governors, the Secretary General of the Arab Maghreb Union, and private sector representatives. I want to thank the Libyan authorities for superbly hosting this conference.

"The world has been facing a very serious global financial crisis, which requires clear and comprehensive action by all countries, and close policy coordination between them. This past week-end, I participated in a summit of the G-20 leaders, which reaffirmed the urgent need for a high degree of international cooperation.

"Based on current policies, our latest projections for growth in 2009 are around 2.2 percent for the world economy and slightly negative for advanced economies. Our assessment is that Maghreb countries would experience only a limited direct impact of the financial turmoil, but they are more vulnerable to a global economic downturn.

"The Maghreb has achieved remarkable progress and has vast potential. All countries in the region have pursued, in the last decade, significant reforms aimed at boosting growth, but they still face major challenges. Maghreb countries aim for an even higher sustained rate of growth that would reduce the still high unemployment rates in the region and raise living standards.

"In the current adverse global environment, it is now particularly urgent to deepen the integration of Maghreb countries to lift private investment and productivity, accelerate growth, reduce unemployment, and improve the region's resilience to external shocks.

"During this conference, high-level representatives from the Maghreb countries reviewed the progress made in regional integration since the 2005 Algiers Conference and agreed that, while some headway has been achieved, the implementation of the actions adopted in previous conferences will need to be accelerated to further advance regional integration.

"Participants also agreed that trans-Maghreb joint ventures led by the private sector will yield the best allocation of resources to raise productivity, growth, and employment.

"I praised the Tripoli Conference participants for adopting an action plan to accelerate reforms in trade facilitation, financial integration, and the promotion of the private sector and joint ventures. They have agreed to review the progress in the implementation of this action plan in the 2009 Spring and Annual Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank.

"I was also privileged to meet the Leader of Libya, Colonel Gaddafi, the Secretary of the General People's Committee for Finance, Mr. El-Huweij, and the Governor of the Central Bank, Mr. Bengdara.

"Our discussions confirmed that we share many views on Libya's economic achievements and key challenges. Ambitious reforms over the past years have yielded strong and increasingly broad-based growth and macroeconomic stability. The key challenge is to sustain the ongoing reforms, including reducing the size of the government. In this regard, the Wealth Distribution Program presents both opportunities and risks. If designed and implemented properly, it could promote the private sector while minimizing the risks for the delivery of basic public services.

"Our discussions have convinced me that Libya will continue to make progress in its reform agenda, with the goal of realizing even higher growth and improving the standard of living of the population."

1 Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia.


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