The 2018 International Monetary Fund and World Bank Annual Meetings concluded in Nusa Dua, Bali, on Sunday with an appeal by emerging nations to the world's biggest economies to curb rising trade tensions and volatility caused by protectionist policies. (Antara Photo/Afriadi Hikmal)

IMF-World Bank Annual Meetings Conclude With Loud Message of Solidarity

OCTOBER 15, 2018

Nusa Dua. The 2018 International Monetary Fund and World Bank Annual Meetings concluded in Nusa Dua, Bali, on Sunday with an appeal by emerging nations to the world's biggest economies to curb rising trade tensions and volatility caused by protectionist policies.

The meetings ended on a high note for Indonesia, as its successful hosting of this year's event raised its standing with international dignitaries. The host nation also managed to secure a wide range of deals in infrastructure investment, monetary cooperation and disaster relief and recovery, while the economic injection from the week-long event also helped Bali recover from a recent slowdown.

During the event, which took place between Oct. 8 and 14, the IMF, World Bank and various other stakeholders aired concern over escalating trade wars and fiscal tightening in developed economies and their impact on the global economy.

In his speech on Friday, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo called on countries to step up efforts to ensure that economic growth is inclusive, and that normalization of policy settings by major economies is well communicated and implemented in a timely manner with minimal adverse spillovers.

IMF managing director Christine Lagarde said the Bali meetings have renewed the importance of multilateral coordination that is "more inclusive, more people-centered and more result-oriented." She also urged delegates to decrease trade tensions and find new ways to fix global trade rules.

While a resolution of short-term problems in trade has yet to be seen, World Bank president Jim Yong Kim said he had observed a "spirit of solidarity" among delegates over the past week to prepare for the longer term.

The meetings have advanced the agenda for building resilience amid natural disasters, managing national debt levels, investing in human capital and harnessing the power of financial technology to promote economic growth and lift people out of poverty. And many would like to see this level of coordination replicated in global trade and monetary policies.

"Winter is coming in the US, Europe, Japan and China. But we want to give you the warmth, love, affection and the spirit of coordination from Bali," Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said on Sunday.

Impact on Indonesia

This year's event, which was complemented with a series of side meetings and various other events, including an investment fair and art exhibition, "represents Indonesia in the best possible way," Sri Mulyani said.

The meetings demonstrated Indonesia's significant capacity to organize large-scale events, especially while the country was simultaneously dealing with disaster mitigation in Central Sulawesi and also in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, while hosting the 2018 Asian Para Games in Jakarta.

"For a country to be able to maintain such strong response to disaster and to hold an event like this, is truly remarkable," the World Bank's Kim on said on Sunday.

The government expect the event's success to boost investor confidence in the archipelago.

More than 36,300 people participated in the meetings, nearly double the initial target, with 15,000 from abroad, who "would be spokespersons for Indonesia and Bali's tourism and economic potential," Bali Governor I Made Mangku Prastika said.

The tourist island expects the event to help the region make a swift economic recovery, as it eyes 6.25 percent annual growth this year. The province's economy only expanded by 5.6 percent annually in 2017, its slowest pace in the past six years, due to a dip in tourist arrivals after the eruption of Mount Agung.

The central government has spent Rp 3 trillion ($197 million) on infrastructure in preparation for the event. This includes the expansion of Ngurah Rai International Airport, a new underpass and a waste processing facility. Prastika said this investment also created 32,000 new jobs on the island.

Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Panjaitan said Indonesia may see additional revenue of Rp 1.2 trillion from tourism across the archipelago as many delegates were scheduled for extended their stays to take vacations in Bali, Lombok, Labuan Bajo and Lake Toba.

Mirza Adityaswara, senior deputy governor of Bank Indonesia, said the country received an additional buffer to defend its currency with a $10 billion swap and repo agreement with Singapore's central bank.

During the event, Indonesia also secured loan facilities of $1 billion each from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank for disaster mitigation and recovery in Lombok and Central Sulawesi.

The country further secured investment of $13 billion in infrastructure projects from a total of $42 billion that were offered to foreign delegates on the sidelines of the event.

"Many said they were surprised by the fact that Indonesia has so many infrastructure projects and investment instruments," Sri Mulyani said.

"Some of them came to Bali many years ago and noticed the new airport and toll road. These showed that this country delivers on its infrastructure development and they hope there would be other infrastructure projects somewhere else in Indonesia that are viable for them to finance," she said.