The Beijing Communiqué: A Quick Take Away

 Ashby Monk

The IFSWF’s annual meeting is wrapping up today. And, with the Beijing Communiqué now published, we can make some guesses about the future trajectory of the organization. The major development seems to be the decision to set up a permanent secretariat:

“To pursue our interests further, we agreed to move towards a permanent secretariat funded by the Forum members. It will be based at the International Monetary Fund for a transitory period upon our request. This funded arrangement will allow us to participate more actively in work on issues relevant to SWFs, to help promote the Forum’s mission, and to engage in a more active dialogue with recipient countries, relevant international institutions, policy makers, academia, and the private sector.”

In other words, the IFSWF appears ready to launch its own organizational and institutional systems (beyond the confines of the IMF) in an effort to be more dynamic and pro-active. Unfortunately, I didn’t see a time-frame or any indication of the level of resources that the forum members will commit to the new secretariat, which means it’s hard to make any predictions at all about what we should expect to see. But I’m fairly certain we won’t have to wait until the IFSWF meets again in Mexico in 2012 to hear something from the Forum. In fact, the Communiqué promised some interesting research findings from the Forum over the summer. I look forward to it!

5 Responses to “The Beijing Communiqué: A Quick Take Away”

  1. 1 Sven Behrendt May 15, 2011 at 7:06 am

    That is what we would all hope for. I believe a secretariat independent from the IMF would be a good step forward. However, the Beijing statement reads suspiciously similar to the Sydney statement a year ago. So I would hold my horses.

  2. 2 Larry Catá Backer May 15, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    What is particularly interesting is the desire of the community of SWFs to now take the lead introducing (and perhaps controlling the production) of knowledge about SWFs. In a context in which many of the members of the group do not do will with transparency it will be interesting to see just what sort of information the secretariat will produce on behalf of the group.

  3. 3 MMcC May 16, 2011 at 1:06 am

    (Caveating note: I see these things through a very Chinese lens) CIC and SAFE have both been very impressed with ISDA’s ability to open doors for members’ participation in new markets and especially by their ability to keep those doors open under legislative onslaughts of the kind Chinese quasi-governmental investors have endured overseas. While I’m sure improving group-level transparency is one issue that mightfall within the Secretariat’s purview, I wonder if it might also be the potential home of a country-neutral lobbying agency for SWF access/treatment.

  4. 4 Ashby Monk May 16, 2011 at 8:34 am

    All very interesting, gents. Thanks for the comments.

  5. 5 Sven Behrendt May 16, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    Building on these comments, I guess a key challenge will be to carefully position the secretariat, if it will be established at last. I would certainly not like to see the secretariat take the lead introducing knowledge about SWFs. That is something that the academic community has done quite capably, and by now has outrun the IFSWF by far (if the IFSWF has ever been in that race). What I would see any future secretariat doing is publishing additional information about SWFs along the lines of the Santiago Principles, on a constant basis. That would indeed be helpful.

    Some have argued that any future secretariat might also reflect a growing sense of collective identity amongst SWFs. And, to spin this further, collective identity is the basis for collective political interests. I continue to hear the term “OPEC” in recipient countries when discussing the potential consequences of a strong, politically oriented SWF body. Something to deal with, I guess.

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This website is a project of Professor Gordon L. Clark and Dr. Ashby Monk of the School of Geography and the Environment at the University of Oxford. Their research on sovereign wealth funds is funded by the Leverhulme Trust and The Rotman International Centre for Pension Management.

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