Oct 13, 2012

Japan - WB, IMF sound alarm over global food prices

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Both the World Bank and International Monetary Fund yesterday voiced concerns over food prices volatility, which will see more people in the low-income countries falling back into poverty.

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said there are challenging economic prospects in regions around the world. Emerging markets need to keep a close watch on vulnerabilities, whether they are domestic or external.

"Low-income countries remain vulnerable, not least because of the high food prices, not on all foods but on certain foods certainly as well as to the danger of more people falling back into poverty."

"In these areas, we need action to lift the veil of uncertainty. Many of us have debated what actions are needed. Many of us understand what needs to be done, but it actually needs to happen," she said.

She spoke to reporters at a news conference ahead of the 2012 IMF-World Bank annual meetings in Tokyo.

At a separate press conference in the Japanese capital, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim also rang alarm over food prices, among other pressing issues.

"We are in challenging times. Food prices remain high and volatile; growth in high-income countries is weak; and developing countries, which have been the engine of growth, will not be immune to the increased uncertainty in the global economy."

"Our job at the World Bank Group now is to make sure the growth over the last five years that we've seen in developing countries in Africa and Latin America and Asia is not destroyed by further worsening in the situation."

Lagarde said many of the right decisions had been taken to secure global recovery, but added that these decisions need to be implemented.

“We really need to go through what needs to be done to make sure that recovery is not just a little bounce but is really here for the longer term and is sustainable'” she said.

Lagarde said the biggest change had been development of much larger global ripple effects that spread the slowdown to emerging markets, particularly those in Asia.

Rejaul Karim Byron 
The Daily Star

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