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IMF, World Bank to capitalize on Middle East uprisings

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The IMFC was directly affected by the pro-democracy turmoil that swept the Arab crescent this year. Until February it was headed by Egyptian Finance Minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali, who was obliged to step down after he was fired, along with half the government, by then-president Hosni Mubarak in Cairo.

+Also see “Arab Spring Shock Doctrine? IMF, World Bank and Western Businesses See Oppurtinity in Exploiting Transitional Egypt, Tunisia” -PR+

‘Act now’ to support Mideast: World Bank

Paul Handley, AFP, April 17, 2011

The World Bank and IMF called Saturday for urgent support for Middle East economies, warning the region’s political upheavals could throw the global economic recovery off track.

“We must act now,” said World Bank President Robert Zoellick at the close of the the two organisations’ meetings in Washington.

“Waiting for the situation to stabilize will mean lost opportunities. In revolutionary moments, the status quo is not a winning hand.”

The Bank earlier warned that “a worsening of conditions in the Middle East and North Africa could derail global growth.


The uprisings that overthrew longtime strongmen in Tunisia and Egypt while challenging others from Libya to Syria and Yemen grabbed the focus of the world’s financial technorati as they met in Washington to discuss the crucial challenges facing the global economy.

Zoellick stressed earlier in the week the impact of rising food prices on political stability in poor countries.

“We may be coming out of one crisis — the financial and economic crisis — but we are facing new risks and wrenching challenges,” he said.

“Food prices were not the cause of the crises in the Middle East and North Africa, but they are an aggravating factor.”

Chad’s Finance Minister Ngata Ngoulou said his country was feeling the heat from the spillover of Libya’s European- and US-backed uprising against dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

“All this has repercussions on Chad, repercussions above all negative on the economy and on our society. It weighs on our resources,” he said.

Other countries “have not considered this situation,” he added.

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, who chaired a Group of 20 finance chiefs meeting on the sidelines of the World Bank-IMF meetings, called for strong support for the North African countries from governments and multilateral agencies.

She said international financial institutions need to begin assessments “in particular of those countries that have initiated a transition towards democracy.”

“The economies of these countries are facing specific structural problems,” she added.

France will boost its annual commitment to Egypt to 250 million euros ($360 million) from 150 million euros.

“If priority is to be accorded to inclusive and sustainable growth, issues of justice, security and employment, particularly in the private sector, can no longer be addressed separately,” Lagarde said.

“This is also one of the lessons to be learned from the events in North Africa and the Middle East.”

Lael Brainard, US Treasury under-secretary for international affairs, said the World Bank, International Finance Corp and African Development Bank together could potentially muster $4 billion for Egypt and Tunisia in the next year, to help them restart their economies.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development was also positioning itself to take a lead in the effort, according to an EBRD official.

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‘Arab Spring’ holds IMF, World Bank, amid financial woes

Hugues Honore, AFP, April 17, 2011

Global finance chiefs sought ways to help Arab economies flourish amid pro-democracy revolts erupting across the region as the IMF and World Bank met in Washington Saturday.

While the Arab Spring that has seen dictators in Egypt and Tunisia fall since January has captivated the two key global institutions in their spring meetings, looming in the background were destabilizing “imbalances” in the world’s most powerful economies.

International Monetary Fund and World Bank policy makers made support for Arab countries a key priority, highlighting the social-political impact of skyrocketing food prices and joblessness around the world and especially in the Middle East-North Africa (MENA) region.

“We can together build a better future for these countries. And that’s not only important for Egypt and Tunisia, it’s important for the whole world because this example is an example that is going to have a lot of consequences,” IMF managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said Friday.

“The upheaval in the MENA region is not only a reflection of discontent over jobs, low wages and poverty, but also represents a day of reckoning for trade and economic policy choices made … over past decades,” Supachai Panitchpakdi, the secretary general of the UN Conference on Trade and Development, told the opening meetings said in a statement.


The IMFC meeting will be followed later in the day by a meeting of the Development Committee, which advises the IMF and the World Bank on aid to developing countries.

The IMFC was directly affected by the pro-democracy turmoil that swept the Arab crescent this year. Until February it was headed by Egyptian Finance Minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali, who was obliged to step down after he was fired, along with half the government, by then-president Hosni Mubarak in Cairo.

A week later, Mubarak himself was ousted by popular revolt. The IMFC chairmanship went to Singapore’s finance minister, Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

The post-revolution period in Egypt and Tunisia and aid to other Arab countries swept by protests seeking social justice and better economic futures have been the center of attention in Washington since Thursday.

France and the United States announced Thursday a “joint action plan” for five international financial institutions to aid development in the Middle East and North Africa.

The IMF was tasked with providing an economic evaluation of the countries potentially involved, initially seen as Tunisia and Egypt.

Strauss-Kahn said the IMF was ready with aid if asked. But Tunisia and Egypt have so far not done so.

Tunisian authorities are negotiating with a number of countries and development agencies at this point, while Egypt is studying its options, officials from the two countries have said.

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Written by peripheralrevision

04/18/2011 at 6:50 pm

Posted in Chad, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia