Blair focuses on IMF reform

Prime Minister to meet Greenspan for talks on fund's future in wake of Asian crisis

PRIME MINISTER Tony Blair is to hold a private meeting with US Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan to discuss reforms to the International Monetary Fund, a hot issue since the Asian financial crisis .

The meeting - an unusual one as heads of state do not usually meet with central bankers - will take place during Mr Blair's trip to Washington, which starts Wednesday. It is one of a complex set of international financial diplomatic manoeuvres currently underway. Because Mr Blair is President of the European Union and host of May's Group of Seven summit in Birmingham he finds himself at their centre. Mr Blair will also discuss the Asian financial crisis when he meets with President Clinton.

"We and our European partners have to recognise the Asian crisis is global and that the IMF is not just run by the United States," said a senior British official in Washington.

The US has traditionally taken the lead in directing IMF bail-outs like the one during the Mexican financial meltdown at the end of 1994, leaving Europe watching on the sidelines. Now the EU, whose members contribute 30 per cent of the IMF funds compared with 18 per cent for the Americans, want a bigger say.

"Exports from European Union countries to the region (Asia) are greater than those from the US. The exposure of European banks is greater than the sum of US and Japanese exposure," Chancellor Gordon Brown wrote in a recent letter to Michel Camdessus, managing director of the IMF, a copy of which has been obtained by the Independent on Sunday."

In that letter Brown outlines some suggestions for reform of the way the IMF operates - ideas likely to be taken up by Mr Blair in his meetings with Mr Clinton and Mr Greenspan. These include:

q The IMF "promoting a code of conduct on transparency in fiscal policies" and economic and financial developments in borrowing countries.

q An increase in the transparency at the IMF itself by encouraging it to go public on more of its activities, such as when a country continually ignores its advice.

q Making the IMF pay more attention to the vulnerability of its financial systems to potential shocks and reversals in capital flows.

q Finding ways to ensure private investors play a full role in resolving financial crises.

q Improving the assistance given to developing countries in strengthening their financial systems by the IMF and better co-operation with financial reg- ulators in emerging markets.

"Like my European partners, I believe it is essential to keep the IMF at the centre of the global response to what is a global problem" wrote Mr Brown, reiterating the EU's full support to the measures taken by the IMF in resolving the Asian crisis.

The IMF has promised $100bn (pounds 61bn) in loans to help the Far East economies meet their financial obligations and restore confidence in their banking systems.

The Government's plan seems to be to formulate a common EU view for IMF reform at a meeting of EU finance ministers in Brussels on 16 February, which Mr Camdessus will attend.

Mr Brown originally invited Mr Camdessus to attend an informal meeting of EU finance ministers on 20 March, but the date was brought forward, indicating the importance being attached to IMF reform. These viewpoints will then be carried into a G7 finance ministers meeting in London on 21 February. A decision by the G7 could then pave the way for agreement at the IMF's Interim Committee in the Spring.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Swiss Banking and Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Can you speak German,...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - 6 month FTC - Central London

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity f...

Ashdown Group: Junior Project Manager (website, web application) - Agile

£215 per day: Ashdown Group: Junior Project Manager (website, web application ...

Guru Careers: Software Engineer / Software Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software Engineer / Softw...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before