International Monetary Fund Deputy Managing Director Bo Li

IMF Deputy Managing Director Bo li has highlighted the region’s diversity but acknowledged shared vulnerabilities, particularly to global shocks.

Bo Li addressed the IMF Pacific Islands Conference in Nadi Monday, expressing gratitude for the opportunity to gather after the COVID-19 hiatus.

“It is a pleasure to join you all for this year’s IMF Pacific Islands Conference, our first in the region since the COVID-19 pandemic. I am so glad that we can resume our tradition of coming together to discuss the region—its challenges, its opportunities, and its future.”

He emphasised the region’s diversity as a strength but acknowledged shared vulnerabilities.

“The region’s rich diversity is one of its greatest strengths. But you also face common challenges, including high vulnerability to global shocks.”

The conference aimed to share ideas and experiences over the next two days, covering topics like migration, the Blue Economy, and the adoption of digital money.

Bo Li stressed the complexity of deciding on digital money adoption, promising to present the IMF’s latest work during the third session.

“But the decision to adopt forms of digital money is complex and requires careful consideration.

A milestone celebration marked the 30th anniversary of the IMF’s regional assistance centre, PFTAC, allowing participants to reflect on achievements and plan for the future.

Today’s agenda included addressing climate finance for adaptation, acknowledging the enormous needs and slim access to funds. The loss of correspondent banking relations and de-banking posed another challenge, with discussions on measures to address the issue.

Bo Li reassured the participants of the IMF’s continued support through lending, policy advice, and capacity development.

“As you tackle each of these challenges, the IMF remains your reliable partner. We continue to support our members through our lending, policy advice, and capacity development. But we want to enhance our engagement in the region and hear your views on how to do it, which we will do in our final session,” he said.

He expressed the IMF’s intention to enhance engagement and sought input from the region during the final session to develop a medium-term roadmap for future collaboration.

Discussing potential disruptions from geopolitical shocks and supply issues, Bo Li warned, “While the likelihood of a global hard landing in the near term has receded, future commodity price spikes from geopolitical shocks and supply disruptions could hit Pacific Island countries particularly hard.

“Think of shipping disruptions in the Red Sea and globally, which pose significant risks to supply chains and inflation for many Pacific Island countries. Then there are growing signs of geoeconomic fragmentation, which tends to hit smaller countries harder and could seriously hamper growth in the region.

And given your geography, you are on the frontlines of the global climate crisis,” he said.

“We hope that our discussions can help us develop a medium-term roadmap that will steer our engagement in the years ahead.

“Witnessing this reminded me that while we face significant challenges ahead, we can address them if we work together toward a shared vision,” he said.