Transcript of a Press Briefing by Thomas C. Dawson, Director, External Relations Department, IMF

July 17, 2003

Transcript of a Press Briefing by Thomas C. Dawson
Director, External Relations Department
International Monetary Fund
Thursday, July 17, 2003
Washington, D.C.

View this press briefing using Media Player.

MR. DAWSON: Good morning, everyone. I'm Tom Dawson, Director of External Relations at the IMF, and this is another of our regular press briefings. The Managing Director has just returned from a visit to Africa, and I draw your attention to the website where you'll find the various statements that were issued during his visit, which included a meeting with African leaders at the African Union session in Maputo, Mozambique. The purpose of the visit, besides the bilateral contacts, was to reaffirm our commitment to assisting low-income countries, particularly those in Sub-Saharan Africa.

There will be some additional travel by the Managing Director over the next couple of months. We're not quite in position to announce particular trips at this point, but let me assure you we will let you know in a timely fashion so that you can make arrangements with your associates in the countries that he will be visiting.

I would note also that the IMF's Executive Board will be starting its traditional summer recess the week of August the 4th. We will have one more press briefing prior to the recess, and then we will resume with at least one briefing later in August. And that will be Annual Meeting season, which is in Dubai this year, as you all know. There is a preliminary schedule of events on the website, which is going to be getting less preliminary and more full. And I would suggest that you just keep in touch with developments there. And now I will take your questions.

QUESTIONER: On Turkey, are you considering to keep the fifth and sixth reviews separate, or is there any possibility to combine the two? If not, is there a general time frame for a Board meeting on Turkey? And if yes, could it be before the recess?

MR. DAWSON: The mission that is hopefully concluding tomorrow is conducting the fifth review, and so that is a review underway. Therefore, there would be a sixth review at a later point. I fully expect that the mission will have a statement when it concludes tomorrow, which is its normal practice in Turkey. It is premature for me to say about a Board date. Time is running short at this point, but we shall see whether there is, and we will, again, informally let you know when we have a date.

QUESTIONER: Can you give us a sense of how the fifth review has been going on?

MR. DAWSON: I think that would be a bit premature and inappropriate for me to do since, as I said, I expect within about 24 hours we will have a concluding statement from the mission, which will be fairly fulsome.

QUESTIONER: Everybody seems very upbeat about the agreement between Argentina and the IMF. Even Taylor said that it could be done before September when the present arrangement finishes. What is the assessment of the IMF? And, second, I would like to know when you expect the third revision to go for approval to the Board.

MR. DAWSON: The final review of the program we do expect would go to the Board prior to Board recess. I don't have a particular day, so, in other words, in the next two weeks, including tomorrow. We do expect that, and when we have a little more information, we'll try to give you a little more sense of that.

In terms of the work for the so-called follow-on or successor arrangement, obviously some of the discussions that this present mission had touched on that issue. We will be in continuing contact with the authorities, even if there's not a mission physically present or not a negotiating mission physically present. The task is to try to negotiate a medium-term arrangement. It would, by definition, therefore, be a multi-year arrangement. There clearly would be structural elements that would be in that as well as the tradition macro targets.

On the goal of trying to reach an agreement by September or by the Annual Meetings, as I think sometimes the two words are used interchangeably, we are working as hard as we can. I think there is a possibility of doing that. Whether we will actually be able to succeed in doing that just depends on how the negotiations go. It is, as I said, clearly a matter of priority for the Fund to try to work with the authorities to see if this program can be put together. To repeat a couple of my earlier lines, it's more important that it be done correctly than it be done right away. At the same time, there's a matter of urgency and, therefore, I can assure you that the Fund staff working on this issue will not be observing the traditional August recess.

QUESTIONER: A follow-up to this question. Some people in Argentina and even right here said yesterday that the Argentine government might be interested in more of a short-term arrangement with the IMF to go through the elections there in September and October. Would that be something that the IMF would be interested in? Or is the IMF insistent on a multi-year arrangement?

MR. DAWSON: The authorities made it quite clear during the visit of the Managing Director that what they were interested in was the medium-term arrangement, and we're working with the authorities with that as our goal. So I don't have anything on that as a possibility because what we are doing is trying to support the authorities in what their approach is, and their approach is to try to work out a medium-term program.

QUESTIONER: You said time is running short between now and the recess.

MR. DAWSON: Right. That's an observation of the number of days in a week and the number of weeks prior to recess. Fourteen days is a short period of time.

QUESTIONER: So do you think there's a chance the Turkey review won't happen...

MR. DAWSON: I don't, actually, I think we should wait until the review is concluded, which hopefully is tomorrow, and I think at that point we would have a sense of when it would be.

QUESTIONER: First, I would like to know if you are scheduling new missions to go to Argentina. And, second, what will happen if Argentina can't pay on September the 9th the due that is huge?

MR. DAWSON: First of all, September the 9th is almost seven, eight weeks away from now, so I think there's a lot of time between now and then and, indeed, a lot of work to be done. In terms of particular scheduling of missions, the last mission is, in fact, just back. There certainly will be missions, a negotiating mission is expected in August. There may be other visits as well of staff. I don't have particular dates, just don't have them right now, but there certainly will be because, as I said in answer to an earlier question, this is a matter of great importance to us.

QUESTIONER: Do you have a date at all, a Board date for Ecuador and the Dominican Republic?

MR. DAWSON: I do not. There is expected another mission in Ecuador shortly, and there was a mission that recently returned from the Dominican Republic. I don't have dates on either of those.

QUESTIONER: Is anything holding up that? I mean, could you expect to have that before the recess?

MR. DAWSON: In the case of Ecuador, I think that is possible. I just don't have a date, and we're normally a little hesitant to give specific dates because things do change. It is possible we will have something prior to the recess. So just stay tuned.

QUESTIONER: [inaudible]

MR. DAWSON: No, there's another one coming. It would be after that.

QUESTIONER: [inaudible]

MR. DAWSON: Not necessarily, because missions can go during recess.

QUESTIONER: Turning back to Argentina, there are economists that are thinking about a contribution of the IMF to extend the maturity but not to [inaudible] the principal. Is there any possibility the IMF is looking for that way to...

MR. DAWSON: To my knowledge, the access question, which is how the Fund would describe your question, has not been discussed in any detail yet. So I don't have anything on that. That obviously would be a subject discussed in the missions. But the relationship between access and program content is sort of an iterative process, you know, with a feedback loop. So I think it's a good question, but it's not something we have any answers to at this point.

QUESTIONER: A technical question. How long does the recess...

MR. DAWSON: Two weeks.

QUESTIONER: Two weeks? And you rule out any Board meeting...

MR. DAWSON: No, what the recess amounts to is that the Board is in what they call an informal recess, and so there are no Board meetings scheduled during that period of time. And there does tend to be a tendency for some of us to not be here during that period of time.

QUESTIONER: Do you know why the review, I'm talking about Turkey, was put on hold, the sixth review? What have you heard?

MR. DAWSON: It is a natural process. You have a series of reviews in any given program, one, two, three, four, five, six. If the fifth review tends to be slowed down because the negotiations took longer than expected, if in some cases some actions needed by the parliament took longer than expected, it is natural that the next review, whatever it is, is therefore delayed as well.

There are occasions, certainly, where things get so delayed that you then wind up compressing or dropping reviews in a program. That is not where we are in Turkey. Not where we are.

Thank you very much.


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