IMF committee acknowledges conflicts risk but opts against joint communique

By David Lawder and Andrea Shalal

(Reuters) -The International Monetary Fund's steering committee failed to issue a joint communique on Friday amid disagreements over wars in the Middle East and Ukraine, opting instead for a statement from the body's chair that acknowledged the economic risks posed by the conflicts.

International Monetary and Financial Committee "members discussed the global macroeconomic and financial impact of current wars and conflicts including the war in Ukraine, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, as well as the shipping disruptions in the Red Sea," Saudi Arabia's Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan, the body's chair, said in a statement.

"While recognizing the IMFC is not the forum to resolve geopolitical and security issues and these issues will be discussed in other fora, IMFC members acknowledged that these situations have significant impacts on the global economy. Today's era must not be of war and conflict."

Al-Jadaan said in a news briefing that geopolitical fragmentation of the global economy was generally leading to negative impacts, but some countries were benefiting from the diversification of supply chains that were part of this trend.

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said the IMF and World Bank spring meetings this week in Washington have been focused on building more resilience in the world economy.

"What we want is a world where growth is stronger, living standards are higher and low-income countries are not falling down. A world that is more resilient to the shocks that will continue to come."

Georgieva urged countries to "finish the job" on taming inflation, while continuing to rebuild fiscal buffers that were depleted by the COVID-19 pandemic and a subsequent cost-of-living crisis.

Global finance officials have struggled to reach agreement on a consensus communique repeatedly in the two years since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Finnish Finance Minister Riikka Purra told reporters after the chair's statement was released that Nordic countries unanimously opposed the adoption of a formal communique because it did not explicitly mention Russia.

"It was not possible for us to approve a joint communique which did not explicitly and directly mention Russia, which wages a war in Ukraine that has all kinds of economic consequences across the world," Purra told reporters.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal and David Lawder; Additional reporting by Anne Kauranen in Helsinki; Editing by Paul Simao)