Global Reaction

ASEAN calls for Asian candidate for IMF chief

Updated: 2011-05-27 14:56
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BANGKOK - ASEAN secretary-general called on Asian countries to jointly nominate a candidate for the post of managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Thai media reported on Friday.

As the leading engine of global economic growth, Asia needs to assert itself in the way international institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF operate, Surin Pitsuwan, a Thai national secretary-general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, said on Thursday.

"The time is for Asia to field a candidate and it doesn't have to be an Asian. They could be a member of a Third World country but not the European Union and they surely must not be a North American," the Bangkok Post, Thailand's English newspaper, quoted the ASEAN chief as saying.

Since 1946, a European has always held the post of IMF managing director. Australia's Treasurer Wayne Swan said the new IMF head should be chosen on merit and the convention of selecting only Europeans for the post was outdated.

Surin, speaking at the "Future of Asia" conference in Tokyo, said Asia should assert its claim to the position now or it might be too late.

He referred to the selection of a new IMF managing director to replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a French citizen, who is struggling with sex scandal in the United States and recently resigned from his post.

If ASEAN does not do anything, it will be taken for a ride and next time it will be overlooked, Surin added.

Given the fact that Asia is now a major contributor to the IMF, the ASEAN general secretary elaborated, it is the time for Asian nations to step forward in finding a new IMF chief candidates.

He said developing countries now represents about 42 percent of the contributions to the IMF compared with the nearly 30 percent Europe and the United States each contribute.

On Thursday, Beijing suggested that the chief of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) should be chosen through democratic consultation with a merit-based and transparent selection process.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said on Thursday that the selection should seek to increase the presence of emerging markets and better reflect the changes in the global economic layout, adding that Beijing has noticed that some countries have named their candidates, but she did not talk about Beijing's preference toward the candidates.

Also, Caretaker Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij last week expressed that he supported a move by Asia to find a candidate that could represent the region or a candidate who would be supported by Asia.

Various global powers are jockeying for the position. French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde is the latest to make a formal bid for the post.

The resignation of Strauss-Kahn has opened the door for a number of respected Asians, including Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Singapore's finance minister; Kemal Dervis, a former Turkish economy minister; Montek Singh Ahluwalia, an Indian who has worked for the IMF; and Min Zhu, special adviser to the IMF and former deputy governor of the Bank of China; among others.

Founded in 1944, IMF has more than 180 countries and regions as its members with its mission to oversee the global financial system by following the macroeconomic policies of its member countries.