Mexico's Carstens takes long-shot IMF bid to India

10th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

Mexican central bank chief Agustin Carstens arrived in India on Friday to press his case to be the next IMF leader, as he and French rival Christine Lagarde criss-cross the globe to garner support.

Nominations to succeed Dominique Strauss-Kahn as managing-director of the International Monetary Fund close later Friday, and Lagarde is seen as the odds-on favourite.

But the Mexican is hoping to tap into discontent against Europe's historic lock on the IMF job, as he follows the French finance minister on a lobbying tour of major developing economies.

Carstens said last week his candidacy "is something that emerging countries have advocated and which we have to continue to work for".

He will hold a series of meetings in New Delhi similar to Lagarde, who had talks on Tuesday with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, and will then brief the press at 1300 GMT.

After a stop Monday in Washington, the IMF's home city, Carstens will then follow in Lagarde's footsteps by visiting Beijing, where he is due to give a news conference next Thursday.

Lagarde told AFP that she felt "very positive" after her talks in Beijing and that she backed China's right to fill a top job at the global lender.

But the Mexican central bank governor decries what he calls a lack of European "credibility" as the eurozone battles a debt crisis with IMF assistance.

"We are breaking a paradigm," Carstens told AFP last week, arguing that being named the next IMF chief would be a major victory not just for Latin America, but for the entire developing world.

Carstens has close knowledge of the IMF -- both on the receiving end as Mexico's finance minister, and as IMF deputy managing director from 2003 to 2006.

Both China and India were non-committal this week about Lagarde's candidacy, and both have argued that the IMF job should be based on merit and better reflect changes to the world economy.

Under a tacit transatlantic agreement, the IMF leadership has been held by a European since its founding in 1945, while an American has occupied the top job at the World Bank.

Big emerging players argue it is high time that the post-war arrangement was consigned to history. But the so-called BRICS -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- have failed to rally behind an alternative to Lagarde.

The IMF is due to publish a full list of candidates by June 17. The final selection is expected to be announced by June 30.

The institution's executive board, whose members represent a country or a group of countries, is aiming to select the next chief by consensus, but could resort to a vote. That would leave Carstens easily outgunned by Lagarde.

But the Mexican rejected Europe's arguments for keeping the job as self-serving, as Strauss-Kahn faces trial in New York over allegations of sexual assault. The Frenchman denies the charges.

Carstens told AFP last week that since the IMF's founding, Europe had never hesitated in crafting financial prescriptions for the countries of Latin America and elsewhere in the developing world.

"Why shouldn't a Latin American be put in charge of helping resolve the economic problems of Europe?" he said.

Lagarde -- who has already visited Brazil -- has pledged to reform the IMF to give developing countries more power.

She heads on Friday to Lisbon, where African finance ministers and central bankers will be meeting for the African Development Bank's annual gathering, before travelling to Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

© 2011 AFP

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