Selected Decisions and Selected Documents of the IMF, Fortieth Issue -- Retention Quotas: Decision and Letter of Transmittal

Prepared by the Legal Department of the IMF
As updated as of April 30, 2019

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Payments Restrictions


In concluding consultations on restrictions on current payments and transfers as required under Article XIV of the Fund Agreement, the Fund postponed consideration of retention quotas and similar practices through which some members have sought to improve their earnings of specific currencies. The Fund has now examined these practices more fully than was possible at the consultations referred to above. The Fund has extended this examination to cover the terms of reference of the resolution adopted on September 9, 1952, by the Board of Governors and has come to the following conclusions

  • 1. Members should work toward and achieve as soon as feasible the removal of these retention quotas and similar practices, particularly where they lead to abnormal shifts in trade which cause unnecessary damage to other countries. Members should endeavor to replace these practices by more appropriate measures leading to currency convertibility.

  • 2. The Fund will enter into consultation with each of the members concerned with a view to agreeing on a program for the implementation of 1 above, including appropriate attention to timing of any action which may be decided upon.

  • 3. The Fund does not object to those practices which, by their nature, can be regarded as devices designed solely to simplify the administration of official exchange allocations.

The Managing Director is asked to send the following letter to all members in transmitting the foregoing decision on retention quotas and similar practices:

The Fund has made a detailed study concerning retention quotas and other similar practices pursuant to the resolution passed at the Seventh Session of the Board of Governors in Mexico in September 1952. I am pleased to transmit herewith a decision of the Executive Board of the Fund based on this study.

The Fund has concluded that these practices stem from widespread difficulties presently existing in the international payments position of many countries. The Fund’s consideration of this subject has shown that what is referred to as “retention quotas and similar practices” covers a wide range of exchange measures. Certain practices under this heading may be unobjectionable from the point of view of Fund policies. Other practices in this category, however, appear to result in adverse effects on exchange stability and to cause unnecessary damage to member countries. They also may lead to the adoption of retaliatory measures. The interest of the Fund in these matters clearly follows from the terms of Article VIII containing the general obligations of members with respect to the avoidance of exchange restrictions, discriminatory currency arrangements, and multiple currency practices, and Article XIV dealing with these exchange measures during the transitional period.

In dealing with retention quotas and similar practices, the Board has not intended to change existing Fund standards and procedures with respect to exchange restrictions, discriminatory currency arrangements, and multiple currency practices. Specifically, there was no intention to affect the existing requirements of prior consultation and approval with respect to measures of this character. Those requirements, so far as they concern multiple currency practices, were communicated to members in the Fund’s letter of December 19, 1947 (Appendix II of the Fund’s Annual Report of 1948). Accordingly, it is expected that members intended to maintain, introduce, or enlarge those retention quotas and similar practices which constitute exchange restrictions, multiple currency practices, or discriminatory currency arrangements will act in accordance with existing Fund requirements.

The decision recognizes that it is not practicable to deal with all of these practices on a general basis. The Fund, therefore, wishes to deal with these arrangements on a case-to-case basis. We shall communicate as quickly as practicable with members using these practices. We are confident that members will cooperate in these individual discussions in order to enable the Fund to reach appropriate conclusions.

Decision No. 201-(53/29),

May 4, 1953

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