Transcript of a Press Briefing by Caroline Atkinson, Director, External Relations Department

International Monetary Fund
Washington, D.C.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Webcast of the press conference Webcast

MS. ATKINSON: Good morning to those of you here and anybody signing in on the Online Media Briefing Center. I’m Caroline Atkinson, the Director of the External Relations Department of the IMF. Welcome to our usual biweekly press briefing. As usual, the briefing is embargoed until 10:30 a.m. Washington time, or 1530 GMT.

I have a couple of announcements about management activities in the New Year.

On Thursday, January the 14th, at 9:30 a.m., the Managing Director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, will be holding a press conference that had been rescheduled from this week. We’ll send out a media advisory confirming closer to the date.

After that, on January 18th-19th, the Managing Director will be visiting Tokyo for meetings with senior government officials of the new government, discussing recent developments in the global economy and Japan.

On the 19th and 20th, he will go on to Hong Kong where he will participate in the Asia Financial Forum and deliver a keynote speech on the Asian and global economy and, of course, also meet with Hong Kong authorities.

Just as a reminder, the Fund will be closed on December the 24th and 25th and 31st, and on January the 1st. And during the week of December 28th, week after next, the Executive Board will be on recess.

Our next regular biweekly press briefing will be on January the 7th, and also we will send out a reminder about that.

So let me now turn to your questions and to any from the—remind journalists participating via the Online Media Briefing Center to submit your questions, including your name and affiliation.

QUESTIONER: (off mic) When is the meeting with Ukraine—(inaudible).

MS. ATKINSON: Just use the microphone, give your name and affiliation. Thank you.

QUESTIONER: I wanted to know when the meeting is with Ukrainian officials and if there’s any detail that you can provide on that meeting.

MS. ATKINSON: Thank you. As you know, Ukrainian officials are in Washington this week. They will be meeting with senior IMF officials. I’m not sure of the precise—I guess we’re towards the end of the week, so probably today, tomorrow and so on.

And the discussion is, of course, around conditions that are needed or that might be needed for Ukraine to reach agreement that would allow the release of further money from the IMF under the standby arrangement. As you know, we’ve been having these discussions for quite a while, and we’ve been making the point that it is important that there is quite a lot of understanding, a broad understanding, about what needs to be done, and it’s important that both branches of the executive work together to resolve Ukraine’s issues.

I have a question online: “The economy minister Boudou said yesterday that Argentina is in negotiation to cancel the debt with the Paris Club because there’s no need to have the approval of the IMF. It’s possible that Argentina could agree leaving behind the monitoring of the IMF.”

As usual, issues to do with the Paris Club should—questions about the Paris Club should be addressed to the Paris Club. It’s really a question for them, to decide under what conditions they would move forward with a debt rescheduling with Argentina.

Another online question about UAE: “How do you evaluate the situation of the UAE economy now after the last step by Abu Dhabi government to support Dubai? Do you think that this step is enough to help Dubai to meet its obligations the in longer term?”

Well, we welcome the announcement, I guess it was earlier this week, from—by the Abu Dhabi government that they would be providing some support to Dubai. We note that this had a good impact on markets, that some spreads narrowed and so on, and we look forward to a longer-term resolution of Dubai’s debt issues.

I think there’s probably another one. We’ve had some—we’ve also had some computer issues of our own today as we’re all transferring to a new system, to an upgrade.

A double question, the first is: “Where do things stand with Romania?” And the second is, “What does the IMF think of George Soros’s proposal for IMF involvement in the climate change Adaptation Fund for developing countries?”

So, on Romania, I believe there has just—I’m just checking. I believe there has just been a press release which was released yet this morning and is available on our web site, and that, the press release, describes that there’s been a small IMF joint, IMF-EU, European Commission, technical team that’s just been visiting Bucharest to continue discussions with the authorities. And they said that they may go back with the EC and the World Bank in early January, once a new government is in place, to continue discussions on the second review. And shortly afterwards, it should be possible, if there is agreement, to schedule a meeting with the Executive Board. So that would be happening early in the new year.

On the second question, we strongly believe that it’s very important for the world to address the issue of climate change and of the financing for climate change, and we are, you know, ready to consider. There are a number of interesting proposals about how the financing could take place. Of course, what countries do with their SDR allocation is a matter for individual countries, rather than a sort of general IMF proposal. And we look forward to see what comes out of the climate change meetings in Copenhagen, which will be due to finish tomorrow.

We do have quite a lot of information, by the way, on our web site. We issued a paper last week I believe, an SPN, stop policy note, on climate change, and we’ve had a blog on climate change. And the latest issue of our Finance and Development Quarterly, which is also available online and in hard copy, also has some articles about, from different people, about climate change that you may be interested in.

There is a question here: “Do you expect more sovereign defaults in the coming months?”

I’m not expecting more sovereign defaults in the coming months. So that’s certainly hoping not, but not expecting either.

Another (online) question: “What are the possibilities of a W or double-dip scenario?”

I assume this is for the global economy. We have seen some signs of recovery in Europe and also in the U.S. So we do believe that the economic recovery, the recovery from the crisis is beginning in terms of output. It will take some time for that to be translated into employment, and there is a question. The Managing Director has made very clear, there is a question of the sustainability of that recovery. It’s been very much supported so far by the policy actions, the easing of fiscal policy and monetary policy.

We believe that the recovery, although it’s clearly begun, is somewhat fragile. So our best case scenario is that there will be a continued growth and no double dip. That is our best case scenario, but it will be important that policymakers maintain a cautious approach as we believe the recovery is fragile.

So I think that is—we have no more questions online, and I look forward to seeing everybody again in January and hope you have a very good holiday. Thank you very much.



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