G20 Agreement Gives Emerging Countries More Power in IMF

Lesley Wroughton

A G20 agreement to give emerging market countries more power in the International Monetary Fund opens the door for breakthroughs on easing global tensions over trade imbalances.

The surprise deal reached at weekend meetings of finance ministers from the Group of 20 in South Korea shifts IMF voting power to under-represented emerging countries like China, India, Brazil and Turkey.

Countries like the United States are betting that with greater representation emerging economies such as China will be more willing to address the trade distortions causing currency volatility and threatening increased protectionism.

The deal avoided a widening of the gulf between emerging and developed nations and a chaotic ending to a G20 meeting in which the United States failed to convince China and others to agree to targets to limit current account imbalances.

The IMF agreement also spares the G20 from losing credibility, opening the way for G20 heads of state, meeting in Seoul on November 11 and 12, to handle more politically difficult decisions on fixing the trade imbalance problem.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner flew to China on Sunday for further talks with Chinese authorities in the hopes of finalizing a currency deal before the Seoul summit.

Youssef Boutros-Ghali, Egypt’s finance minister who heads the IMF’s steering policy panel, the International Monetary and Financial Committee, said problems in the world economy could not be addressed without acknowledging the rising clout of emerging economies.

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