The annual conference of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund was held this weekend in Washington. The Israeli delegation, headed by Bank of Israel Governor Dr. Karnit Flug and Ministry of Finance Director General Mr. Shai Babad, participated in the main events at the conference, and held many meetings with global economic policy makers and with financial entities from the business sector.
The delegation also included Ministry of Finance Chief Economist Yoel Naveh, Bank of Israel Deputy Governor Dr. Nadine Baudot-Trajtenberg, and other senior officials from the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Israel.
The delegation held joint meetings with the incoming director who will be leading the country group that includes Israel in the International Monetary Fund, Mr. Anthony De Lanoy; with the Director of the World Bank, Mr. Frank Heemskerk; with the Head of the European Division at the International Monetary Fund, Mr. Poul Thomsen; with the Chief Economist of the IMF, Mr. Maurice Obstfeld; and with the Chief Economist of the World Bank, Mr. Paul Romer.
The Bank of Israel’s delegation also met with, among others, governors and senior central bankers from Brazil, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Belgium, and the US, and with delegations from major commercial banks around the world.
Bank of Israel Governor Dr. Karnit Flug said that, “The meetings we held provide a very challenging picture of the global economy in the years ahead. The IMF outlined the risks to the global economy, and emphasized the concern that the forces calling for restrictions on global trade will grow stronger. These risks bring into sharper focus the need for policy measures that will solve the long-term problems with which the various economies are dealing. Various central banks are dealing with similar challenges to those facing the Bank of Israel, and their representatives showed great interest in how the Bank of Israel manages policy, and shared knowledge and experience from their countries.”
The Ministry of Finance delegation met with, among others, the Director General of the International Department at the British treasury, Mark Bowman. They discussed the measures being taken by the British government to implement the Brexit and to disperse the uncertainty surrounding that decision. They also discussed the challenges common to both countries—high housing prices, the financial system, and how to increase productivity.
At a meeting held with the Chinese Deputy Minister of Finance, Yaobin Shi, the parties discussed strengthening the relations between China and Israel, and opening a dialogue between the two countries’ ministries of finance. In addition, Ministry of Finance Director General Shai Babad encouraged the Chinese to integrate Chinese companies into the construction field in Israel, and to cooperate in PPP projects.
At a meeting held with the Jordanian delegation, the possibilities for deepening economic cooperation between the two countries were discussed.
At a meeting with Indian Deputy Finance Minister Shaktikanta Das, the parties discussed the Indian economy and projects for infrastructure and road development, as well as cooperation with the private sector. The Indian delegation invited an Israeli delegation to New Delhi to exchange information on regulatory improvements to make it easier to do business in Israel and PPP projects.
The delegation also met with senior officials from the Australian Ministry of Finance.
Finance Ministry Director General Shai Babad said, “The meetings provided a challenging picture according to which global growth figures are not expected to improve in the near future. Similar to Israel, the other advanced economies have a productivity problem that presents a significant barrier to increased growth. We learned from our Chinese, Indian, Australian and British colleagues how they are preparing to deal with the challenges to increase growth. These meetings raised options for expanding cooperation with foreign investors in cyber and high-tech fields as a result of legislative changes in Israel that are intended to encourage high technology companies to operate in Israel, and also examined increased competition in infrastructure and transportation fields, with an emphasis on PPP projects.”