IMF Executive Board Reviews the Role of Trade in the Fund’s Work

On February 27, 2015, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) discussed the five-yearly Review of the Role of Trade in the Work of the Fund [to be hyperlinked to the paper]. This review follows the Board-endorsed recommendations and proposed implementation plan arising from the 2009 IEO Evaluation of IMF Involvement in International Trade Policy Issues. The staff paper provides a broad overview of the role of trade and trade policy issues in the work of the Fund over the past five years and discusses how to integrate and operationalize the implications of the changing global trade landscape at the Fund. The paper focuses on macro-critical trade issues and proposes to introduce a work agenda for the next five years. Based on the staff paper, the Board’s discussion focused on how to make trade an essential element of the IMF’s operational work and to further develop a work agenda for the Fund.

Following the Executive Board’s discussion, Ms. Christine Lagarde, Managing Director and Chair, stated: “Executive Directors welcomed the review of the role of trade in the work of the Fund and broadly agreed with its main findings. They noted that the trade landscape has changed rapidly in recent years.

Directors considered that trade is an essential component of the global policy agenda to bolster growth and saw a need to reignite the multilateral trade system. They noted that there are potentially large global gains to be derived from further trade liberalization and integration, including from traditional trade liberalization in many countries and sectors, lowering barriers in new trade policy frontiers, and additional expansion of global supply chains. Directors also noted that trade reforms can complement and augment the benefits of other structural reforms, spur additional infrastructure investment, and support the strengthening of policy and institutional frameworks. “Directors welcomed the high quality and policy-relevant work done by the Fund. They emphasized that the Fund’s work in this area should remain within its mandate, addressing trade issues deemed macro-critical and taking into account resource constraints and limited trade expertise. This would require careful prioritization and continued collaboration with other international institutions, including the World Trade Organization and the World Bank.

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