Commentary: U.S. should act quickly to facilitate global financial reforms

2015-11-14 11:37

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As the world has gone through one of the worst ever financial crises over the past seven years, no one would doubt that the current global financial system, which has been in place for decades, is flawed and needs to be upgraded in line with the times.

However, many of the imperative reforms, proposed by the leaders of the Group of 20 (G20) nations years ago to transform the world financial system, have been procrastinated because of the continued obstruction by some stubborn minds in Washington.

The United States should act quickly to endorse the proposed reforms, and the G20 leaders should spare no efforts to find more common grounds on the issue at their Nov.15-16 annual summit in the Turkish Mediterranean Sea resort of Antalya, so as to carry out the reforms at an earlier date.

In layman's terms, the core of the reform proposals is to give greater say to developing countries at the world's two financial organizations -- the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank -- so that they can better reflect the growing economic weight of emerging economies.

The two pillar institutions were founded in 1944 at the Bretton Woods Conference when World War II was drawing to an end and the world was in dire need of a new financial and monetary system.

As a reflection of the world economic order back then, the United States and European powers have been dominant within the IMF and the World Bank. But the world has witnessed fundamental transformations since then.

The developing world now accounts for more than half of the global economy, but much of the decision-making power of the two bodies is still in the hands of the developed countries. In late 2010, the IMF made its first step toward the right direction.

It agreed to a reform package that included a doubling of IMF quotas, a shift in quotas to dynamic emerging markets and under-represented countries, and a proposed amendment to reform the executive board to make it more representative.

Once in effect, the reforms will increase the quotas and the voting shares of the developing world by 6.2 percent and 5.8 percent respectively, and add two more emerging countries to the fund's executive board.

Currently, a total of 144 nations have already ratified the reforms, including major U.S. allies, such as Britain, France, South Korea and Japan. But, the United States, which holds the largest share of votes in the IMF, has refused to approve these reform proposals.

Some in Washington assume that the reforms would put at risk its long-standing veto power on major decisions at the IMF while boosting the influence of China. Such concern is utterly unjustifiable and mostly exaggerating, because the reforms are neither aimed to build a new world order meant to diminish American leadership nor expand the interests of the developing countries at the expense of rich nations.

The U.S. de facto veto power will remain intact in the IMF. In fact, they are all about how the international community can come together to improve the existing global financial governance so as to prevent reoccurrences of financial meltdowns in the future.

Years of Washington's selfish delay has already stirred up widespread disappointment and global criticism, and eclipsed the credibility and legitimacy of the IMF. If the United States continues to kiss the hare's foot in endorsing the proposals and remains in the way of reform, it is advised that other countries, especially emerging economies, look for alternatives as soon as possible to fix the problems that have eroded the health of the international financial regime.

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