International Monetary Fund

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Membership

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Video (0:55): All member countries are represented on the IMF's Executive Board

Highlights of this section:

The IMF currently has a near-global membership of 188 countries. To become a member, a country must apply and then be accepted by a majority of the existing members. In April 2012, Republic of South Sudan joined the IMF, becoming the institution's 188th member.

Upon joining, each member country of the IMF is assigned a quota, based broadly on its relative size in the world economy. The IMF's membership agreed in November 2010 on a major overhaul of its quota system to reflect the changing global economic realities, especially the increased weight of major emerging markets in the global economy.

A member country's quota defines its financial and organizational relationship with the IMF, including:

Subscriptions

A member country's quota subscription determines the maximum amount of financial resources the country is obliged to provide to the IMF. A country must pay its subscription in full upon joining the IMF: up to 25 percent must be paid in the IMF's own currency, called Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) or widely accepted currencies (such as the dollar, the euro, the yen, or pound sterling), while the rest is paid in the member's own currency.

Voting power

The quota largely determines a member's voting power in IMF decisions. Each IMF member's votes are comprised of basic votes plus one additional vote for each SDR 100,000 of quota. The number of basic votes attributed to each member is calculated as 5.502 percent of total votes. Accordingly, the United States has 421,965 votes (16.76 percent of the total), and Tuvalu has 759 votes (0.03 percent of the total).

Access to financing

The amount of financing a member country can obtain from the IMF is based on its quota. For instance, under Stand-By and Extended Arrangements, which are types of loans, a member country can borrow up to 200 percent of its quota annually and 600 percent cumulatively.

SDR allocations

SDRs are used as an international reserve asset. A member's share of general SDR allocations is established in proportion to its quota. The most recent general allocation of SDRs took place in 2009.