The International Monetary Fund will open a regional office in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s biggest economy, the fund’s managing director Kristalina Georgieva said on Monday, during an official two-day visit to the kingdom.
“My visit marked another important milestone in our partnership with the region. We are taking our co-operation to a new level by establishing an IMF regional office in Riyadh,” Ms Georgieva said.
The new office will spearhead engagement with regional institutions, deepen relationships with country authorities and help expand the IMF’s capacity development activities.
Ms Georgieva said her visit aimed to strengthen co-operation between the Washington-based fund and Saudi Arabia as well as other GCC nations, especially in responding to the global series of shocks, including food insecurity.
Speaking at a conference in Saudi Arabia, she said that 141 million people across the Arab world are exposed to food insecurity, with 48 countries, including many in Africa, requiring immediate assistance.
Ms Georgieva also participated in a high-level panel discussion on tackling food insecurity with senior officials during her trip.
“The event … [reflected Saudi Arabia’s] leadership role in addressing this critical challenge. We underscored the increasing urgency for an effective and co-ordinated global response and additional financing to support low‑ and middle‑income countries facing food insecurity,” Ms Georgieva said.
“I am therefore grateful for the Arab Co-ordination Group’s recent announcement to provide an initial $10 billion to alleviate the global food supply crisis and am extremely pleased that several GCC countries are planning to make further pledges soon," she said.
“I would like to thank the government of Saudi Arabia for its generous commitment to investing in building capacity in countries across the region."
Eradicating acute food insecurity globally will cost $50bn over the next 12 months, as the Russia-Ukraine war has triggered a sharp increase in food prices that exacerbated existing food and hunger problems, the IMF said in a report released last month.
The investment is needed to lift 345 million people worldwide out of conditions of food insecurity and to ensure better nutrition levels for them for a year, the fund said.
The IMF has also launched a new food security window under its existing emergency financing programmes to help provide additional funds to those countries most affected by the current food crisis.
“I emphasised the kingdom's support for the fund's efforts to mitigate the impact of the food crisis, and its continuous supportive stance for needy countries, especially in the food and energy crisis and the kingdom's contribution over the past year to support these efforts,” Saudi Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan said in a tweet.