9 December 1996
WTO and IMF sign cooperation agreement
A far-reaching globalization of economic activity has resulted in an ever-growing interdependence among different areas of economic policy. Trade and financial policies and developments are increasingly interlinked within countries and in the way they affect other countries. Therefore, given their responsibilities in these areas, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) moved today to strengthen their relations when the heads of the two organizations signed an Agreement for future cooperation and collaboration.
The Agreement signed today in Singapore, on the opening day of the WTO's first Ministerial Conference, has other benefits as well, including better access for both organizations to each other's information and data. Such access is vital to avoid unnecessary duplication. The IMF's macroeconomic information will be of great use to the WTO Secretariat, especially in the preparation of the in-depth and regular Trade Policy Reviews of each WTO Member. In turn, the IMF will have access to a wide range of WTO information, including its Integrated Data Base, which contains trade statistics and information on WTO Members' tariff rates; this is expected to help the Fund in its surveillance and lending activities.
While the Agreement establishes new mechanisms by which the institutions can address each other, it also reflects and builds on a long-standing successful relationship that has always been friendly and largely informal. Thus, the institutions emphasize the need for their day-to-day dialogue to develop in a natural way, creating a more fruitful, two-way relationship between the organizations. Now that the institutional footing has been put in place by the Agreement, it is anticipated that work will start soon to address issues related to achieving better coherence in global economic policy making, an area where the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank each have distinctive r˘les.