Transcript of IMF Press Briefing

January 11, 2024

MS. KOZACK: Good morning, and welcome to this press briefing, both to those of you here in person and also those joining us online. My name is Julie Kozack. I'm the Director of Communications at the IMF. This briefing will be embargoed until 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time. I will start as usual with some announcements, and then I'll take your questions either in person, on WebEx, or via the Press Center.

So, starting with Davos. The Managing Director, Kristalina Georgieva, and the First Deputy Managing Director, Gita Gopinath, will be attending the World Economic Forum's 2024 Annual Meetings in Davos next week. They'll be there, or the Managing Director will be there, from the 15th to the 19th, and the FDMD for a slightly shorter period. We will release also on the eve of Davos, a new Staff Discussion Note on Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Work. This will be released on Monday, January 15. The document will be made available under embargo later this week via our Press Center. In Davos, the MD and the FDMD will participate in a number of discussions, panel discussions, a media advisory of their schedules, and how to watch live will be sent also via the Press Center.

Next, on January 28 th and 29th, the Managing Director will be traveling to Rome to attend the Africa Italy Summit organized by Italy's prime minister, Giorgia Meloni. And finally, I'd also like to confirm that the IMF will launch the next World Economic Outlook Update on Tuesday, January 30 in Johannesburg, South Africa. We will provide more details and information on this release in the weeks to come.

Thank you so much. And with those few remarks, I am now ready to take your questions. So, let's open the floor.

QUESTIONER: Hi, good morning, Julie, and happy new year. So, I've got a couple questions. One is concerning Egypt. The Managing Director met with Finance Minister and the Central Bank Governor, and some others this week, to talk about their desire to possibly expand that program. Can you sort of tell us what the status of that is? Is there a mission that's going to be going to Egypt in the near future? Also, just looking at the general economy, you saw the World Bank’s outlook, which came out earlier this week, it was pretty gloomy, very slow growth. I know we're a couple of weeks out from the WEO update coming out the end of January, but if you can give us a flavor of sort of how the IMF sees this, is it as dire as what the Bank is predicting? Thank you.

MS. KOZACK: Okay, great. Maybe before I answer, since you mentioned Egypt, are there any other questions on Egypt?

QUESTIONER: Yes, I would just like to ask regarding Egypt, and following on David's question, if there's anything you can provide in terms of details beyond a staff mission, any outlines on what's being considered in terms of a new agreement in terms of further funding.

MS. KOZACK: Oh, Eric, can you please push the button on the mic?

QUESTIONER: On Egypt, following on David's question, beyond staff mission, whether there's anything you can provide in terms of a ballpark range of a new agreement or further funding, how much it might be, and if the IMF has a view on the value of Egypt's currency, when they should devalue, and whether inflation is now under enough control that a devaluation would be advisable or should inflation be the higher priority? Thank you.

MS. KOZACK: Okay, very good. On Egypt. Yep, go ahead, Kemi.

QUESTIONER: So just following up on the two questions, can you provide any information on the impact of the Gaza ongoing war, and how that is affecting the Egyptian economy?

MS. KOZACK: Okay, certainly. Thank you. And anyone online on Egypt?

QUESTIONER: Good morning, Julie. Good morning, everyone. My name is Doaa Abdelmoneim, from Egypt. I have just two questions.

MS. KOZACK: Yeah, I think we've lost her audio. So maybe is there someone else online who has a question on Egypt?

QUESTIONER: Yes, here is Mohammed Sayed. I'm from Asharq news.

MS. KOZACK: Thank you, Mohammed.

QUESTIONER: I would like to ask also about we hear in some media reports that the fund given by IMF to Egyptian government to be raised to be $4.5 billion US dollar instead of its previous 3 billion. How correct is it? And what about the time scheduled to giving Egypt the second tranche as it has been delayed many times during the previous year?

QUESTIONER: Happy new year. I'm very happy to meet you in COP28 in Dubai. My name is Ahmed Emad from Al Masdar newspaper. I have a question about Egypt. A delegation from the Egyptian government met with the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund during the past two days. What are the most important points that were discussed during this meeting and what are the most important measures that IMF sees the Egyptian government needing to take? In addition, what is the date for the next review of the Egyptian government program with IMF and what is value of the current loan increase that the Egyptian government has applied for? Thank you.

QUESTIONER: I want to ask if the ongoing visit of the high level delegation of the Egyptian authority pave the way for a visit of an IMF mission to Egypt during January, according to what’s stated by the spokesperson of the Egyptian cabinet. Thank you, Julie.

MS. KOZACK: Okay, wonderful. Thank you. Anything else on Egypt? Okay, good. Let me go ahead. So first, let me just step back for a moment to say, to remind that in December of 2022, this is when the EFF was approved by our Executive Board in the amount of $3 billion. And I can also confirm that on Tuesday, January 9, our Managing Director, Kristalina Georgieva, did indeed meet with the Minister of Finance and the Central Bank Governor here at IMF headquarters.

In terms of the many questions that were received, I'll give you some broad perspectives. So we, of course, are in discussions with the authorities. Our team is in discussions with the authorities on a set of policies that would support completion of the first and second reviews of the EFF that Egypt has with the Fund. This strong engagement that we've had with the authorities has helped achieve important progress in the discussions, and we do expect those discussions to continue in the coming weeks to operationalize the key policy priorities.

And I know there were a number of questions on those policy priorities. So some of them include, for example, the need to tighten monetary policy and fiscal policy, as well as to move toward a flexible exchange rate system, which would support the authority's commitment to both reduce inflation and to gradually move to an inflation targeting regime. And at the same time, additional financing will be critical to ensure successful program implementation. A lot of the details that were asked, including size of disbursement, detailed policies, these are all part of the discussions that are taking place. So we will have more to communicate on those issues in due course.

With respect to the question on the impact of the war between Israel and Gaza, what I can say on this is that Egypt already faces a complicated and challenging macroeconomic situation, and that situation has been made more complicated by the conflict between Israel and Gaza. And we, of course, are seeing some effect on Egypt, particularly, for example, through the disruptions in the Red Sea, and also areas that support the current account, such as tourism. And I'll stop there on Egypt. So let's move on. Igor, go ahead.

QUESTIONER: Good morning. Thank you, Julie. A couple of questions. First on Ukraine, taking into account the ongoing uncertainties.

MS. KOZACK: Igor, let me just stop you 1 minute, because I realized I forgot to answer David's question on the global outlook.


MS. KOZACK: So, I apologize. We'll come right back to you. So, David, on the global outlook. As I said, we're going to release the WEO later in January. What I can say now on the global outlook is when we look at 2023, 2023 proved to be quite a resilient year for the global economy, more resilient than we had expected at the beginning of 2023, and if we look at some of the more pessimistic projections that were made at the beginning of 2023, a year ago, those did not materialize. So we've had a relatively resilient global economy so far. We expect that resilience to continue into 2024.

At the same time inflation is coming down, labor markets continue to be resilient. Of course, the news is not all good, because this resilience, with growth around, hovering around 3%, both last year and expected over the medium term, that's much lower than previous kind of global average growth rates, which were about 3.8%. So, we do have work to do to lift global growth, especially over the medium term. And this points to the need for, of course, sound policies, reforms that can raise productivity and all of these, this is taking place in an environment which has been very shock prone. So, we've had shock after shock after shock, and in an environment of great uncertainty.

So, I think our general view on the outlook is we are poised for a soft landing in the global economy. We expect resilience to continue, but there are still quite a few challenges that will need to be addressed, and we'll have more details for you at the end of January.

QUESTIONER: Just to follow up really quickly. Is that resilience that you expect likely to be concentrated in the United States, which it was really the standout performer in ‘23, or is it going to be spread around to more other countries?

MS. KOZACK: So, we do obviously see differentiation among countries. The US is the only economy that has achieved its post pandemic growth trajectory and slightly surpassed it. So, we do see a divergence of fortunes among countries and among groups of countries. With, of course, the risk that low-income countries in particular are at risk of falling further behind. They are having the hardest time recovering from the series of shocks, including the pandemic, the food and oil price shock, and this is why we have put such a focus in our work, particularly in ‘23, and that will continue into 2024, on how can we help the most vulnerable members of our global community. Igor, over to you.

QUESTIONER: Thanks. So, back to Ukraine. Taking into account the ongoing uncertainties in the US Congress regarding the Ukrainian funding, does the IMF have capabilities and willingness to provide additional funding if it is requested? And the second question is about BRICS. As new countries have joined BRICS since the beginning of this year, including Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Emirates, what pros and contrast does it bring to the global economy trade, financial system, and cooperation from the perspective of the IMF? Thank you.

MS. KOZACK: Any other questions on Ukraine?

QUESTIONER: I have a question on Ukraine. The G7 leaders are going to discuss the legal basis for seizing 300 billion in frozen Russian assets as a compensation for damages from the Russian war in Ukraine. Reportedly, the US and the United Kingdom have worked actively with the other countries to enable this step. However, some European countries, including Italy in G7, fear it could cause financial instability. What is the position of the IMF on this issue? Would the seizure of Russian assets be justified and could it affect financial stability worldwide? And the second follow up, if I may, how do you assess the economic and financial prospects for Ukraine in the near term, given the delay in the aid from the US and the EU? And have the Fund’s forecasts for Ukraine changed because of this?

MS. KOZACK: On Ukraine, stepping back just to remind you, in December the board completed the second review of Ukraine’s EFF, enabling a disbursement of about $900 million and taking Ukraine's total disbursements under the program to $4.5 billion to date. The authorities have made very strong progress toward their EFF commitments under challenging conditions. Under the program, all of the different targets were met and there has been very good progress on the structural front as well.

The Ukrainian economy also continues to show remarkable resilience, although subject to exceptionally high uncertainty. So, continued strong ownership and reform momentum is going to be essential. The latest forecast that we had released in December suggested that growth in 2023 would be 4.5 percent and the team will be looking again at the forecast in the context of our WEO update, and also in the context of their ongoing discussions with the authorities. I also would want to point out that Ukraine has made substantial progress in reducing inflation. Inflation in 2022 was nearly 27 percent and it is expected to be 6 percent in 2023.

With respect to the question on funding, Ukraine's financing needs do remain substantial for 2024, we estimate that the country will need financing of about $42 billion, including official donor support of about $32 billion. And it is, of course essential that Ukraine's donors and partners ensure that their financial commitments are met, and that Ukraine receives the financing necessary to support macroeconomic stability in the country.

With respect to the question on the BRICS, I think as I've noted before, as a group we do welcome countries working together. We are a supporter of countries working together, finding ways to trade to become integrated so that more people can benefit from the gains of global integration. So, to the extent that different country groupings enable more integration and more global cooperation, those are goals that we support.

And now let me turn to the question on the Russian assets. So, first, I should say that any decisions related to seizure of Russian assets, or to impose taxes on the interest holdings of these assets, are for the relevant country authorities to take. From the IMF's perspective, we are following the ongoing discussions, and the focus of the IMF on such issues is to assess the implications, potential economic implications, on any of our member countries or implications on the international monetary system. And any assessment that we would make would depend on the precise details of any actions that are taken.

QUESTIONER: I have a couple of questions on Japan. The latest World Economic Outlook, released in October, shows that Japan's nominal GDP is likely to fall below that of Germany in 2023. This is the first time in half a century that this has happened. What is your view on why this has happened? And to follow up, since the energy crisis caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the German economy has been struggling. Do you believe that Japan's economy is now weaker than Germany’s?

MS. KOZACK: I'm going to give a little bit of a technical answer to this question. The comparison that you've done in US dollars, when we look at Germany versus Japan, that is based on the current exchange rates. And some of that change in the dollar assessment of the size of the economies is related to changes in currencies -- the Yen against the Euro, and the Yen has shown more weakness against the dollar than the euro has. This change reflects, in a large part, exchange rate changes. And for this reason, another way to look at the size of economies is to use what we call PPP, or Purchasing Power Parity weights, and we tend to focus on these because of the volatility in exchange rates. If we use these PPP weights, which is what we also use when we calculate global growth in our WEO, Japan is projected to still remain a larger economy than Germany.

The only other point I would make is that when we look at economic performance, Japan is projected to have positive growth in 2023 and Germany is expected to have weaker growth. So, just looking at the nominal dollar amounts is not going to give a full picture of either economic size or economic performance.

Let's move on. Should we go to Argentina?

QUESTIONER: The agreement announced yesterday includes ambitious new fiscal and reserve targets. What happens if the laws and executive orders that President Milei proposed in Congress are not passed? Can this goal be met anyways or are they in risk to fail? Thank you.

MS. KOZACK: Thanks. Any other questions on Argentina?

QUESTIONER: The statement released by the IMF yesterday was harsher than previous statements regarding the last government of Alberto Fernandez. In hindsight, was it a mistake that the IMF went forward with the reviews last year given that the statement mentioned, imbalances have accumulated and there were severe policy setbacks? Thanks.

MS. KOZACK: Okay, thank you. Anyone else on Argentina?

QUESTIONER: My question is related to the staff report released yesterday, it doesn't have estimates on inflation for the coming months. And also, what is the annual projections for GDP? And a last question, is there going to be a meeting scheduled in Davos with President Milei, Kristalina Georgieva, or Gita Gopinath?

QUESTIONER: I'd like to ask, obviously yesterday we had the agreements on the review of the Argentina program. Central Bank president Santiago Bausili said at the press conference that the IMF is comfortable with Argentina's monetary policy, even though the key rate and the crawling peg lag far behind inflation. Does the IMF agree with Argentina's monetary policy and why? And just given that IMF officials have long insisted that interest rates remain above inflation.

MS. KOZACK: Anyone else online on Argentina?

QUESTIONER: The staff report says that the government will not seek any net financing, and I was wondering if that was a point that you were discussing on some level and if there was no agreement on that point. And also, I was wondering why there weren't any meetings with leaders of the opposition that sometimes when a new government comes into office, when these things are discussed, the IMF does these meetings with unions or with other sectors. What's your take on, if you are going to have some conversations regarding that subject, to see the support that these government measures have?

MS. KOZACK: Anything else on Argentina?

QUESTIONER: In the report, it said that Argentina has abandoned the opaque system of administrative import controls. Could you expand a little bit on that?? Why do you call it opaque? And a little bit more explanation on that. And also, Caputo said that the IMF agreed to providing fresh financing under a potential new program. Was that discussed? And is that the case?

QUESTIONER: Hi, I would like you to give us some more details about the new targets from the new program.

MS. KOZACK: Anything else on Argentina? No? Okay, very good. So let me just step back. We have quite a lot of territory to cover. So, as you know, yesterday, last night, the IMF staff and the Argentine authorities announced a staff level agreement for the 7th review of Argentina's EFF arrangement. This staff level agreement is subject to approval of the IMF's Executive Board, at which time Argentina will have access to about $4.7 billion U.S. dollars.

Understandings were reached on a strengthened set of policies that aim to restore macroeconomic stability and to bring the current program back on track, as key program targets were missed by large margins due to severe policy setbacks over the last few quarters of 2023. It's also important to note that the new administration is already implementing an ambitious stabilization plan. This plan is anchored with a large upfront fiscal consolidation, actions to rebuild international reserves, correcting relative price misalignments, strengthening the central bank's balance sheet, and creating a simpler, rules based, market-oriented economy. It's also very important to note that the package that has been agreed includes a scaling up of social assistance to protect the most vulnerable in Argentina's economy.

Now, to some of the specific questions. There was a question on some of the laws that are under consideration there is a very large legislative package, referred to as an omnibus bill that is under consideration. This bill does have important fiscal implications, or there are aspects of this bill that do have important fiscal implications. And as such, we do expect that the authorities will continue building political support to move key aspects of this bill forward. With respect to projections on growth and inflation, those will be provided in the staff report that will be presented to our Executive Board and eventually published.

With respect to monetary policy, the monetary policy stance in Argentina is evolving to support money demand and also disinflation. The authorities are committed to ending central bank credit to the government while also strengthening the central bank's balance sheet, which I already mentioned.

With respect to the question on administrative controls, what I can say there is that Argentina is moving toward a more market-based exchange rate regime, abandoning administrative import controls, and addressing in an orderly fashion the debt overhang associated with importers. And they're doing this in a way that is not adding to Argentina's vulnerabilities. And the goal under the program with respect to reserves is to accumulate, or to accumulate reserves of $10 billion U.S. dollars by the end of 2024, so, a change in reserves of $10 billion. And there was another question on the fiscal side, the authorities are aiming to achieve a primary fiscal surplus of 2% of GDP in 2024.

I think I will stop there. I know that you have many more questions. We will of course have, in time, a full staff report with a letter of intent around the time of the board meeting, and we will have a chance to communicate and discuss more of the details at that time. Let's move on, please, right here.

QUESTIONER: I want to ask about U.S.-China trade relations. There is a recent article on Wall Street Journal “Derisking China-reliant Supply Chains.” It kind of argues that even though Southeast Asia seems to be benefit from it, it seems to be lengthened the supply chain as some are assembling Chinese parts, in Vietnam or Thailand, for example, rather than in China itself. So, it probably means that higher cost, higher prices, since the supply chains are longer. So, my question is, can you share some thoughts on the impact or how is the U.S. derisking strategy toward China is playing out? And what is the IMF’s suggestion? Thank you.

MS. KOZACK: Thanks very much. So, as we, and I think other organizations have already documented, we do see some initial signs of derisking and fragmentation in the data that we're looking at. One example is that Greenfield FDI is increasingly flowing among geopolitically kind of aligned countries. And also, as you mentioned, supply chains are lengthening, and we can see that in the data. We also, of course, have seen a gradual increase in trade restrictions over the last five years or so. And we have conducted some recent research on this issue in our regional economic outlook for Asia, which was released in October of 2023. So just a few months ago, the staff did look at the economic implications of derisking and derisking strategies by, let's say, OECD countries and China. That was what the study looked at. The study looked at this issue and it found that there can be a drag on growth from some of these strategies. So, for example, the study finds that global GDP could fall by 1.8% in certain scenarios. And in a more extreme scenario, a full reshoring scenario, global GDP could decline by four and a half percent. So that's just one example of some of the analysis that we've conducted on this issue. And that, of course, complements some of the early analysis that our team and our staff have done on fragmentation, where we show that there's a range of possibilities for an impact on the global economy in a world that fragments with a more extreme version of trade fragmentation, also reducing global growth quite significantly.

QUESTIONER: Thank you, Julie. My question is related to Spain. In order to control the public debt, IMF recommended months ago to Spain to progressively end economical emergency measures and benefits because of the huge costs for the state. However, the Spanish government decided a few days ago to extend them. Do you think that Spain is going to struggle to achieve its objectives regarding public debt?

MS. KOZACK: Okay, thanks very much, Paola. Maybe just to step back and give the broader picture, which is, in terms of policy priorities for Spain, we see two broad policy priorities. One is sustained fiscal consolidation in 2024, and beyond, to rebuild fiscal buffers and to reduce public debt. And the second big policy priority that we see for Spain is to advance further reforms to reduce structural unemployment, which is still the highest in the Euro area despite recent progress, and also reforms to boost productivity growth in Spain.

With respect to your specific questions, there have been some key measures in Spain, as you noted, that were extended into 2024. But because they've been extended in varying degrees, the fiscal cost for 2024, based on our assessment, would be lower than in 2023. But it does mean that additional efforts will be required to achieve the envisaged fiscal target of a 3% fiscal deficit for 2024. And our staff sees this fiscal target as still appropriate for Spain.

QUESTIONER: Thank you. So, I was wondering if you could give us updates on Africa with specific to Mozambique, Angola, and DRC. Angola last year left OPEC. Do you see any impacts of them leaving on the economy and also on DRC? I know you can comment on political, but last month there was a disbursement from the IMF. And if you can provide any update, do you see, moving forward, inflation very high in the country as well as in other regions, and the plan to work with the administration to turn things around.

MS. KOZACK: Great. Thanks so much, Kemi. I can speak a little bit on Mozambique. On Angola and DRC, we'll get back to you bilaterally. I don't have anything fresh on those two countries. On Mozambique, what I can say is that the Executive Board completed the third review under the ECF arrangement just a few days ago. Program performance was satisfactory, so the program is on track in Mozambique. The authorities have put in place immediate policy adjustments following some fiscal slippages earlier on. Continued efforts on the fiscal side are warranted to reduce Mozambique's financing needs and to contain its debt vulnerabilities.

And it's also important to note that there was recently parliamentary approval of a sovereign wealth fund bill that took place in December of 2023. And this was an important step, in our view, to ensure transparency and sound management of Mozambique's natural resource wealth. So, it's something that we see as very important for the country.

And I'll stop there, maybe let's go to Webex. I see, let's go with Francis. Can you unmute, please? We can't hear you. We still can't hear you, Francis, so maybe we'll come back to you. Or if you'd like, you can send your question, and I'll come back to it later on.

QUESTIONER: Great and thanks a lot. I wanted to know. In Yemen, I know that there have been discussions of the IMF and Yemen, but there's a lot of tension in the Red Sea. I guess you could speak about it, maybe on the economic level, what you think, where the IMF sees that going in terms of the impact on global trade. And then a more straightforward question, I guess, you have a mission in Sri Lanka, and there's obviously a lot of interest after the events there, what's the goal of the mission? What do you see coming out of it? And finally, yesterday here in the U.S., the Securities Exchange Commission approved spot bitcoin and exchange traded funds, which seems to be a step towards kind of legitimization here. Given the things that the IMF's evolving view of crypto, have you taken note of that? And what does the IMF think of that? Thanks a lot.

MS. KOZACK: Thanks, Matthew. So, starting with your question on Yemen, which I'm going to interpret as what are the potential implications of the attacks in the Red Sea? So first, continued attacks in the Red Sea, and the Red Sea accounts for or transport through the Red Sea accounts for 10% of global trade flows. They are raising both shipping times and shipping costs for exporters and importers. And this could renew upward pressure on prices. I also want to highlight that we have a platform called PortWatch, and we're putting it on the screen so you can see it. And this platform actually will show you the volume of shipping that goes throughout various parts of the world. But you can actually look at the Suez Canal, for example. And this tool, this PortWatch tool shows that the volume of shipping through the Suez Canal has decreased by 28% year over year during the 10-days that ended on January 2nd. And it also shows that shipping volumes going through the Cape of Good Hope increased by 67%. So, using this tool, we can actually see the increase in shipping times and the different routes that are taken in response to the ongoing situation in the Red Sea. So, this is the analysis that we have so far. Obviously, this is an issue that we're closely monitoring, and we will aim to continue to keep you updated on this issue.

Turning to Sri Lanka, I should ask, are there any other questions on Sri Lanka? Okay, I don't see anything else. So, on Sri Lanka, stepping back just to give the overview, our Executive Board approved the first review of the program on December 12th, 2023. So just about a month ago, with a disbursement of $337 U.S. dollars. Program performance has been satisfactory, as signaled by the completion of the review. And the next steps are the mission that is currently on the ground right now. This mission is a staff visit. It is kind of a fact finding or technical mission. And the goal of this mission is to discuss recent developments and to follow up on program targets and commitments. The mission for the next program review will take place later on. And the next steps on the debt restructuring are to conclude the negotiations with external commercial creditors and to implement agreements with official creditors. The domestic debt operations for Sri Lanka have been largely completed.

And on your third question, Matthew, on the SEC decision, I think it's important here to just remind, you know what is the IMF's view on crypto assets? So, first, crypto assets do have several purported benefits. These include cheaper and more transparent payments, but at the same time, they also pose macro financial risks, including risks to the effectiveness of monetary policy and also risks to financial stability. So, it's important to strike a balance between the benefits and the risks. We want to reap the benefits of innovation, and we also want to guard against risks, either financial stability risks or risks to consumers. And for this reason, a consistent, coordinated, and comprehensive regulatory framework is vital in our view. And this is something that we have discussed in our previous publications. With respect to the specific SEC decision, we're looking and analyzing this now, and we'll have more to say on that later on. Okay, Erwan, let's go to you.

MS. KOZACK: And after Erwan, I'll take one more question. I'll try to go back to Francis if possible, and then we will need to wrap up.

QUESTIONER: Just a quick question on Tunisia. I wanted to know if you could provide us with an update about the relation between Tunisia and the IMF, and also if there is any expected date when it comes to the mission in the country.

MS. KOZACK: On Tunisia, I don't have much to add to what we've said previously. There was a mission scheduled for December 5th through 19th, that was postponed by the authorities. We remain a strong partner of Tunisia, and we stand ready to conduct the Article IV consultations and to continue to support the reform efforts of the authorities.

And here I have online Francis's question, which is on Ghana. He's looking to know the state of Ghana's second tranche under the program and the outlook for Ghana for 2024.

So let me just quickly turn to Ghana. Okay, so on Ghana, on October 6 of 2023 -- so just a few months ago, our team reached a staff level agreement with the Ghanaian authorities for the first review of the program. And once our Executive Board completes the review, this would give Ghana access to US$ 600 million in financing. To ensure timely completion of the reviews, official creditors and the Ghanaian authorities will need to reach agreement on a debt treatment consistent with the objectives of the program and in line with the financing assurances that creditors had provided in May of 2023. Discussions between Ghana and the official creditor committee are ongoing. Good progress is being made, and we're confident that an agreement can be reached soon so that we can rapidly bring the program to our board. Eric, a quick one please.

QUESTIONER: Follow up on Ghana. Can you confirm whether the draft term sheet that Ghana has received on debt relief is sufficient for the ECF disbursement, or would the IMF need to see more progress in terms of negotiations there? Is a draft term sheet sufficient, or do you need to see more in order for funds to be disbursed?

MS. KOZACK: I don't have anything to add to what I've already communicated, but we'll come back to you if we can say something with any more detail. Okay, great.

And with that, I am going to bring this press briefing to a close. Thank you all very much. And I was very remiss at the beginning in wishing everyone a very Happy New Year. I got to do it to everyone in the room, but I know we have many people online, so Happy New Year to everyone who has joined us today. It has been a pleasure to see you all and I hope you all had a very restful break. As you know, this briefing is embargoed until 11:00 a.m., eastern time. The transcript will be made available on In case of any clarifications or additional queries, please do reach out to my colleagues at thank you so much and have a wonderful day. 

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