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International Monetary Fund

Membership

The IMF (www.imf.org) has 189 member countries, practically all of the world's sovereign states. Switzerland joined the IMF in 1992 and, together with Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Poland, Serbia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, forms a constituency with a seat in the Executive Board. The combined voting power of this constituency is 2.745% of total voting power, with the Swiss share at 1.173%.

Governance

Switzerland's IMF membership is exercised jointly between the SNB and the Federal Department of Finance. Various representatives participate in IMF bodies. The Head of the Federal Department of Finance is one of the 24 members of the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC), the main advisory body of the IMF, which meets twice a year. The Chairman of the Governing Board of the SNB is Switzerland's representative on the IMF Board of Governors. The Board, which meets once a year, delegates all the decision-making on almost all issues to the Executive Board, a standing body located in Washington D.C. The Executive Board is composed  of 24 directors which represent the Fund’s member countries. Most countries belong to constituencies. A Swiss Executive Director represents the constituency led by Switzerland in the Executive Board.

Mandate

The IMF primarily promotes macroeconomic and financial stability. To exercise its mandate, it focuses on three areas: surveillance, lending and technical assistance.

Surveillance

The IMF assesses economic developments on a national, regional and global level. It consults with its members on a regular basis and advises them on economic and monetary policy issues. On a bilateral level, surveillance is reflected in Article IV consultations and in Financial Sector Stability Assessments (FSSA), with the aim of sensitising authorities and capital markets for problems and strengthening market discipline. The main focus of the IMF’s efforts is crisis prevention.

Lending

The IMF provides financial assistance to countries with temporary balance of payment needs. The Fund’s lending criteria are based on economic considerations and tailored to country-specific circumstances. The lending decisions also take into consideration the financial solidity of the Fund. The IMF has taken part in and coordinated comprehensive financial support programmes to combat serveral financial crisis.

Technical assistance

The IMF helps member countries build and reform the institutions necessary to implement sound macroeconomic policies and to establish and maintain financial stability. Technical assistance is provided primarily to low-income countries. Its perspective is medium-term.

The IMF and Switzerland

The IMF monitors and assesses the economic performance of each of its members on a regular basis (usually once a year). The most recent assessment of the Swiss economy (Switzerland: 2015 Article IV Consultation-Staff Report; Press Release; and Statement by the Executive Director for Switzerland) is available at: http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/cat/longres.aspx?sk=42954.

At less frequent intervals, the IMF assesses the stability of member countries’ financial systems. The most recent assessment of the Swiss financial sector (Financial System Stability Assessment Update) is available at: http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/cat/longres.aspx?sk=41590.0.

Switzerland's financial relations with the IMF (end-October 2016)

The financial obligations arising from the membership in the IMF are met by the Swiss National Bank.

 
Maximum amount
Of which drawn
Of which not yet drawn
Quota
SDR 5,771.1 m
(CHF 7,848.7 m)
SDR 13.0 m
(CHF 17.6 m)
SDR 5,758.1 m
(CHF 7,831.1 m)
GAB and NAB
SDR 5,540.7 m
(CHF 7,535.3 m)
SDR 968.2 m
(CHF 1,316.8 m)
SDR 4,572.4 m
(CHF 6,218.5 m)
PRGT
SDR 581.8 m
(CHF 791.2 m)
SDR 95.7 m
(CHF 130.2 m)
SDR 486.1 m
(CHF 661.1 m)
SDR Voluntary Trading Arrangement
SDR 1,644.0 m
(CHF 2,235.8 m)
SDR -39.9 m
(CHF -54.3 m)
SDR 1,683.9 m
(CHF 2,290.1 m)

Special Drawing Right (SDR)

The SDR is an International Monetary Fund (IMF) unit of account calculated from the weighted exchange rates of the US dollar, euro, yen, pound sterling and, since 1 October 2016, the Chinese renminbi.

Quota

Quota are the primary source of IMF funds. They are calculated on the basis of each country’s economic capacity (GDP, current account receipts and payments and their variability, currency reserves). Switzerland’s quota amounts to SDR 5,771.1 million, which is 1.21% of the IMF’s quota total of SDR 477 billion. The portion of the Swiss quota used by the IMF is a liquid item which the SNB can draw on request. The used portion of the Swiss quota as well as the funds used under the General Arrangements to Borrow (GAB) and the New Arrangements to Borrow (NAB) form part of the reserve assets.

General Arrangements to Borrow and New Arrangements to Borrow

The GAB and the NAB allow the IMF to borrow funds, in exceptional circumstances and in the event of a shortage of funds, up to a total maximum amount of SDR 182.4 billion. However, the GAB can only be activated if agreement has not been reached under the NAB. The maximum amount of the GAB is SDR 17 billion. The funds used under the GAB and the NAB also form part of the reserve assets.

Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust

The Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust (PRGT) grants loans to low-income member countries at preferential terms. The PRGT is financed through bilateral contributions and through the IMF's own funds. The Swiss National Bank funds the Swiss contribution to the PRGT capital on a loan basis. The Confederation provides the SNB with a guarantee that the loans, including interest, will be repaid on time. It also funds the interest rate subsidies.

SDR Voluntary Trading Arrangement

The Special Drawing Right (SDR) is not only a unit of account but also a means of international payment. As part of the Voluntary Trading Arrangement with the IMF, the SNB has committed itself to purchase (+) or sell (-) SDRs against foreign currencies (USD, EUR) up to an agreed maximum.