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Mr. Emilio Sacerdoti and Mr. Philippe Callier

Debt relief from multilateral and bilateral creditors is showing results in Africa. In the landlocked western African country of Niger, lower debt service, together with continued significant budgetary aid and higher domestic revenue mobilization, is having an impact on spending in education, health, and the rural sector (see Chart 1). Budgetary allocations in these areas increased by 4 percent of GDP between 2002 and 2007. Debt cancellation yielded a drop in debt service of about 2 percent of GDP between 2003 and 2006. The external debt was trimmed by $1.3 billion, from 76 percent of GDP at end-2002 to 14 percent at end-2006.

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

On July 24, the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreed to the de facto suspension of the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations. What are the chances of getting these negotiations moving again, and what are the implications of a breakdown? The IMF’s Natalie Hairfield discusses the issue with Hans Peter Lankes, Chief of the Fund’s Trade Policy Division.

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

In 2004/05, Ethiopia experienced a second successive year of rapid economic growth, at close to 9 percent; growth of 5 percent is projected for 2005/06. But the country continues to face political uncertainties including unresolved tensions stemming from the May 2005 national elections, which have adversely affected donor support. Ethiopia’s largely agricultural economy also remains vulnerable to variations in weather, which have resulted in wide swings in output that have had severe effects on the poor, the IMF said in its most recent annual economic review.

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

Political turmoil and conflict in Nepal reduced growth in 2005, but, according to the IMF’s annual economic review, inflation was moderate, the overall fiscal deficit was significantly lower than budgeted, the current account and overall balance of payments remained in surplus, and international reserves were adequate. Financial soundness indicators also improved somewhat, thanks to banking sector reforms.

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

Tranzania has made great strides in improving its economic performance over the past decade, pursuing an ambitious program of economic reforms supported by official development aid and other assistance from the international community. A recent IMF Working Paper concludes that prospects are favorable for Tanzania to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of people living on less than $1 a day by 2015, if reforms of the rural economy are intensified. Volker Treichel of the IMF’s African Department discussed his findings with Jacqueline Irving of the IMF Survey.

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

After more than two decades of conflict, interspersed with earthquakes and drought, the economy of the Islamic State of Afghanistan has grown relatively strongly since 2001, albeit from a very low base, the IMF said in its annual economic assessment. Bad weather conditions have slowed agricultural output over the past 18 months, but other sectors, especially construction and services, have benefited from buoyant demand. Poppy production, however, continued to rise in 2004, and the Afghanistan component of illicit drug revenue is estimated at $2.8 billion, the equivalent of about 60 percent of the country’s nondrug GDP. The IMF’s Executive Board cautioned that this development could jeopardize security as well as macroeconomic stability and supported recent government and international efforts to develop a multipronged strategy to deal with the opium economy.

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

After some improvement in 2004, Zimbabwe’s economic and social conditions deteriorated further in 2005, the IMF said in its annual economic review. Continued sharp declines in agricultural output, as well as accelerating inflation—projected to increase beyond 400 percent annually by year’s end—and shortages of foreign exchange are expected to cause real GDP to contract by more than 7 percent this year. An overvalued official exchange rate and import restrictions have produced pervasive shortages of basic goods in the economy.

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

Mongolia achieved stronger-than-expected and broad-based economic growth in 2004 and early 2005, benefiting from good weather and high world mineral prices, the IMF said in its annual economic review. Strongly performing agriculture (specifically, livestock) and copper and gold mining sectors contributed to robust growth. Increases in tourism and private transfers also helped offset the negative impact of more costly oil imports.

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

04/235: IMF Managing Director Rodrigo de Rato’s Statement at the Conclusion of His Visit to Mexico, November 9

Sabina Bhatia

Under the aegis of the Parliamentary Network on the World Bank, approximately 190 legislators from over 80 countries gathered in Paris on February 14-16 to discuss a wide range of development issues. This fifth annual meeting of the organization, which also drew governmerit officials, civil society I organizations, and representatives from the World I Bank and the IMF, I focused on rising concerns over the prospects for meeting the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); continued frustration with trade and market access; the importance of improving the accountability of the international financial institutions; donor policies; and efforts to strengthen the role of parliamentarians in promoting development.