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Ex-Im Chairman Calls for Multilateral Cooperation on Emerging Market Reforms

James A. Harmon Wants G-7 Meeting to Coordinate Support for Reforms in Asia, Russia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 21, 1999

Media Contact Name/Phone: 

Andrew Yarrow (202) 565-3200

Washington - James A. Harmon, the chairman of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank), called for greater cooperation among the G-7 export credit agencies (ECAs) to encourage economic and legal reforms in developing countries in a keynote address here to the World Economic Development Congress. Harmon thinks reforms to strengthen the rule of law, competition, regulations, and financial transparency would help many emerging-market economies affected by the recent global financial crisis achieve sustainable, long-term growth.

If we can marshal the collective power of the G-7 ECAs, we could have an important new force and voice for reform in emerging-market countries, Harmon said, noting that Ex-Im Bank and its counterparts in Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Britain, and Canada have supported more than $300 billion in exports to developing nations during the 1990s. I intend to call a special meeting of the G-7 ECAs this fall to address how we can coordinate our actions in support of reform in Russia, Asia, and other markets.

Harmon said that the unexpectedly rapid recovery in Korea, Thailand, Brazil, and other countries affected by the 1997-99 global financial crisis has generated complacency about the need for fundamental reforms. Longstanding practices and problems in many developing countries require a long-term perspective, he added, since financial-market reforms that have made U.S. markets the strongest and most trusted in the world took many decades to achieve.

The pace of recovery has far exceeded the pace of reforms, Harmon told attendees of the annual conference on emerging-market infrastructure development. We will continue to be naive if we now fail to recognize that in many cases the roots of the problems lie not only in a lack of time or experience, but are the result of a pre-existing culture of government-business relations replete with cronyism, corruption, and conflicts-of-interest.

Ex-Im Bankhas played an important role in keeping markets open and fostering recovery in economies ranging from South Korea to Brazil during the last 18 months. Ex-Im Bank, whose mission is to sustain U.S. jobs through exports, expects to support about $15 billion in U.S. exports to developing countries in Fiscal Year 1999.